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Day of Endangered Lawyer focuses on Pakistan

14 January 2020

The tenth annual Day of the Endangered Lawyer will be held on 24 January 2020, with this year's event focusing on Pakistan.

The Day of the Endangered Lawyer foundation is based in the Netherlands. It has developed a wide range of activities around the world on 24 January to raise awareness of lawyers who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, tortured and murdered for their work as lawyers.

The day is commemorated internationally on 24 January because on 24 January 1977 four lawyers and a coworker were murdered at their place of work in Madrid, Spain.

Of the perpetrators, who were affiliated with extreme right-wing parties and organizations, one was sentenced to 15 years in prison, another fled to Brazil and the third ended up in jail in Bolivia for drug smuggling.

Over the past decade on 24 January, lawyers in different European cities and also the rest of the world have gathered in front of embassies and consulates of the chosen country and handed out a report elaborated by the Avocats Européens Démocrates organisation to the official representatives of the country. They ask for measures to be taken to end the harrasment of lawyers.

In a report on Pakistan, the AED says over the past several years lawyers in Pakistan have been subjected to acts of mass terrorism, murder, attempted murder, assaults, (death) threats, contempt proceedings, harassment and intimidation in the execution of their professional duties.

"They have also been arrested, detained or tortured, and in some cases the family members of the murdered lawyer have also been murdered. Some lawyers have been threatened with disbarment or had their homes raided by the police. Sometimes Christian lawyers or members of minority sects have been assaulted or threatened with death.

"The most notorious attack on Pakistani lawyers occurred on August 8, 2016 when terrorists attacked the Government Hospital of Quetta with a suicide bombing and shooting which resulted in the death of 56 lawyers. Since there has been an alarming increase in the number of lawyers murdered, with nine reported over the past year."

Last year Pakistani lawyer Saif-ul-Malook received serious death threats for representing Asia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy. As a result he was forced to flee temporarily to the Netherlands.

The report says the perpetrators of the attacks have been terrorists, religious zealots, the police and unreported sources.

"There have also been reports that pro-government militias (which still exist today) have been behind some of the murders, and in some cases lawyers have been killed because they are Shia. In response to these repeated attacks, Pakistani lawyers frequently strike, demonstrate, protest and hold boycotts."

Focus country for Day of the Endangered Lawyer
YearCountry
2020Pakistan
2019Turkey
2018Egypt
2017China
2016Honduras
2015Philippines
2014Colombia
2013Spain - Basque Lawyers
2012Turkey
2011Iran

Last updated on the 14th January 2020