Public Statement - The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns about the detention of human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov in Tajikistan

TORONTO, Jan. 29, 2016 /CNW/ - The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns about the detention of human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov in Tajikistan.

Buzurgmehr Yorov is a civil and criminal lawyer and the chairman of the Bar Association of Dushanbe.

It is our understanding that Buzurgmehr Yorov was arrested and detained on 28 September 2015. The authorities charged him with fraud-related charges, related to an incident which allegedly occurred in July 2010, when Yorov had purportedly received US$4,000 from a resident of the city of Istaravshan.

Reports indicate that Buzurgmehr Yorov had just begun representing 13 members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) at the time of his arrest. The IRPT members had been arrested and charged by authorities on 16 September 2015. On 29 September 2015, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan banned the IRPT and declared it a terrorist organization. Prior to that date, the IRPT was the only Islamic political party legally registered in Central Asia.

Human Rights Watch notes that Buzurgmehr Yorov's arrest occurs in the context of a worsening government crackdown on lawyers who take on politically sensitive cases. Human Rights organizations believe that his arrest and detention are a direct result of his representation of members of the IRPT.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of Tajikistan to consider Articles 16 and 23 of the United Nations' Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers

Article 16 states:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

Moreover, Article 23 states:

Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the rights to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization.

The Law Society urges the government of Tajikistan to:

a.               

release Buzurgmehr Yorov immediately;



b.               

provide Buzurgmehr Yorov with regular access to his lawyer, family, physician and medical care;



c.               

guarantee all the procedural rights that should be accorded to Buzurgmehr Yorov and other human rights lawyers and defenders in Tajikistan;



d.               

put an end to all acts of harassment against Buzurgmehr Yorov as well as other human rights lawyers and defenders in Tajikistan;



e.               

guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Buzurgmehr Yorov;



f.                

ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.

*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 49,000 lawyers and 7,400 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Treasurer is the head of the Law Society. The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information: Please contact Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor - Media Relations, at 416-947-7605 or stonkin@lsuc.on.ca. The Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N6, www.lsuc.on.ca, Follow us on Twitter @LawsocietyLSUC

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