Law Society Human Rights Essay Competition

The Law Society of England and Wales, together with the IBA Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) and Judges for Judges (J4J), wrote a joint statement to highlight the ongoing challenges faced by the legal profession in Turkey. 

The joint statement was addressed to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It was read before the Special Rapporteur on 2nd March 2018 during a side event at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and widely circulated at the Human Rights Council. 

In the joint statement, organisations raise concerns over the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment in the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey, the lack of effective investigations, and the on-going reports of torture. Organisations also share their concern over the widespread and systematic arbitrary arrest and detention of judges and lawyers in Turkey.  

Read the full statement below. 

My name is Tony Fisher and I am delighted to have been appointed as chair of the Human Rights Committee at the Law Society for a three year term from January 2016. The committee is responsible for managing and developing the human rights work of the Society both at home and internationally. The focus of our work domestically in 2016 will continue to be on legislation which affects domestic human rights and in particular any new Bill of Rights introduced during the year and the Investigatory Powers Bill which is making its way through Parliament as I write this. We are particularly concerned to ensure that the Bill makes express provision for the protection of legal professional privilege.

We will also continue the work undertaken in relation to Business and Human Rights with a view to publishing the first practice note for the profession in this area during 2016. Internationally the committee will continue to work on rule of law issues and actively engage in UN procedures such as the Universal Periodic Review since the Society gained consultative status in 2014. It will also carry on its work to provide protection for lawyers at risk in other jurisdictions. The committee oversees all interventions made by the Society, through the President, which remind overseas authorities of their international obligations to respect the rights of lawyers in their home jurisdictions. Other work includes trial observation work where lawyers have been put at risk or where their rights have been violated, and capacity building acting in collaboration with foreign bar associations. We hope to develop further projects in this respect, including training for overseas lawyers, during the coming year.

We would encourage anybody who would like to become involved with the work of the committee to join the International Action Team. This is a group of over 500 lawyers and law students who have received training in terms of drafting and researching interventions who carry out the initial research and drafting in relation to alleged violations against lawyers around the world. We hope to expand the scope of the work undertaken by members of the International Action Team during the course of the year. To obtain further information as to how you can become involved in this work please click here.

With the tumult evident in so many countries around the world at present it is likely that we will be called on more and more to intervene to protect our colleagues in other countries who are struggling to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of their clients. We will do our best, with the assistance of the volunteers engaged in assisting with the work of the committee, to provide effective support for them.

About Tony Fisher

Tony Fisher is Chair of the Human Rights Committee and senior partner of Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP, an Essex firm which undertakes a substantial volume of public law work in a number of different areas. He has acted as an advocate in many cases in Strasbourg under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) including Stubbings v UK : a case involving limitation issues when an adult survivor of sexual abuse pursued remedies against her adoptive family, Bankovic v Nato States : grand chamber case involving jurisdiction to deal with claims arising out of the NATO bombing of the television centre in Belgrade. He has also acted in a large number of cases arising out of the persecution of the Kurdish community in south east Turkey . His has also appeared in the Grand Chamber in in Yumak and Sadak v Turkey , another grand chamber case involving election thresholds in Turkey. He is also a fellow of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex and a member of the Advisory Board of the Essex Business and Human Rights Project. He has represented the Law Society on many overseas missions whilst a member of the Human Rights Committee, and undertaken a number of trial observations more particularly in Turkey and Jamaica. 

Tony is a Law Society Council member and a CEDR accredited mediator and holds an MBA in legal practice. 

In his other life he is a commercial lawyer dealing with a large range of company and commercial issues, and acting for a number of charities. He is also a member of the Law Society International Issues Committee.

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