The New Zealand Law Society is supporting the organisation ‘Lawyers for Lawyers’ which stands up for lawyers who are threatened or are hindered in their criminal justice work.
The issue is rapidly becoming a global problem, and the Law Society has recently supported two statements condemning violence against lawyers.
‘Lawyers for Lawyers’ wrote to the Law Society to bring attention to details about the killing of Dutch lawyer Derk Wiersum. It asked the Law Society to join other organisations by co-signing their statement. The Law Society agreed to be a signatory.
Lawyers for Lawyers Executive director Sophie de Graaf says the lawyer and deputy judge, was shot in broad daylight outside his house in Amsterdam on 18 September 2019.
“He was representing a crown witness in the so-called Marengo-trial, a high-profile criminal case against members of an organization accused of several murders and attempted murders in the last couple of years. Although the events are still being investigated, it is assumed and highly likely that the death of Mr Wiersum is related to his work as a lawyer,” she says.
In another related matter, the New Zealand Law Society has also provided its signature to a document presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council by ‘Lawyers for Lawyers’ and ‘Lawyers Rights Watch Canada’. The document and oral statement raises serious concerns in condemnation of what is described as ‘increasing attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and the oppressive working environment they face since the start of President Duterte’s administration.’
The New Zealand Law Society is one of over 80 legal organisations around the world to provide its support.