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Human rights defenders appeal to the International Association of Prosecutors

The HFHR and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee has sent an appeal to the International Association of Prosecutors requesting them to examine the issue of the pressure exerted by the executive on prosecution service and the launch of proceedings against human rights defenders. Fifty NGOs from Europe and Caucasus has backed the appeal.

The violation of the rule of law by the executive and the undermining of the trias politica principle of a given state may result in a situation where the justice system, prosecution service and judges begin to operate in violation of the constitution and human rights where they should be their guardians. If prosecutors and judges lack independence they may be used as an instrument of political pressure exerted on independent journalists and human rights defenders.

In countries such as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan the justice system works against citizens, especially those who are critical of the ruling party. A good illustration of this process are proceedings initiated against human rights defenders, like Ales Belyatsky, Rasul Jafarov and Intigam Aliyev. In their cases, not only prosecution service but also courts were given instructions from the executive, as confirmed in a judgment issued by the European Court of Human Rights in the case Jafarov v. Azerbaijan.

For some time now, the HFHR together with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee have been monitoring the trials pending against human rights defenders in the Eastern Partnership countries, Russia and Central Asia. “Monitoring shows how far the interference of the executive with the operations of courts and prosecution service may go”, says Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, an HFHR lawyer. “For this reason, we, together with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, have launched a website on which we report cases of violation of international standards of fairness in juvenile proceedings and the principles of professional ethics by the justice system in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan”, adds Ms Bychawska-Siniarska.

Moreover, in the running up to the annual meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors (planned between 11 and 16 September 2016), the HFHR along with its Dutch partner has appealed to the IAP to look into cases of the executive putting pressure on prosecution service and commencing proceedings meant to stifle the voices of critics. It was noted in the appeal that the Association should conduct a regular monitoring of its members, as many of them have an extensive record of acting against human rights defenders.

The appeal of NGOs may be viewed here.

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