LRWC Annual Report 2019

LRWC Annual Report 2019 PDF (ENG)

NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations


January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019

“Promoting human rights by protecting those who defend them.”


Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and others who promote international human rights law, the rule of law, advocacy rights, and the integrity of legal systems internationally by:

  • Providing support to lawyers and other human rights defenders whose rights, freedoms, or independence are threatened as a result of their human rights advocacy.
  • Conducting legal research and publishing for public use analyses of and guides to international laws and standards relevant to advocacy rights, the integrity of legal systems, fair trials rights and the rule of law.
  • Working in cooperation with other human rights organizations.
  • Engaging in legal education.

LRWC and LRWC (Legal Research) are non-profit, volunteer-run societies incorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. LRWC (Legal Research) engages in legal research and education and has charitable tax status.


Executive Director’s Message — 2
I. Successes in 2019 — 2
II. United Nations Participation Human Rights Council — 3
III. Reports to Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Special Procedures

  • A. Universal Periodic Review — 7
  • B. Human Rights Committee — 8
  • C. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention — 8
  • D. Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance — 9
  • E. Working Group on Business & Rights — 9
  • F. International Criminal Court — 10

IV. Amicus Briefs — 10
V. In-Country Visits — 11
VI. Nominations and Awards for Defenders — 11
VII. International Human Rights Reports to Canadian Governments — 12
VIII. Letters for Lawyers — 12
IX. International Human Rights Law Education — 13
X. Legal Research & Publications — 14
XI. Work with Other NGOs — 17
XII. Constitutions — 18
XIII. Boards of Directors — 18
XIV. Donors, Contributors & Volunteers — 19
Contact Information — 20


The global movement from rights-based multi-party democracies to one-party totalitarian regimes continued. During 2019, states increasingly used laws and legal systems to criminalize the lawful exercise of internationally protected rights and to protect states and corporate ‘partners’ from opposition, criticism, and accountability. Lawyers and other human rights defenders, journalists, land defenders, and pro-democracy activists were victims of unlawful imprisonment, torture, and ill-treatment, threats and attacks by state and non-state actors, surveillance, exile, death, and denial of remedies. Many states used executive controlled courts and overly broad charges that could only be known after subjective determination on conviction, to silence dissent. Defendants were denied liberty, freedom from unlawful charges, fair trials before independent tribunals, access to counsel, legal aid, and defenses. Government decision making increasingly appeared captured by large corporations invested in land and water use projects damaging to the environment and/or existing use and occupancy. The oversight by independent courts necessary to protect rights and prevent and remedy the unlawful use of power, was undermined by a number of factors including: inequality of arms, prohibitive costs, failure of courts to understand or apply international standards and arcane procedures that prevent full review of the public interest.

LRWC volunteers continued to effectively address these abuses globally through advocacy, education, legal research, and cooperation with other groups. In addition, LRWC raised awareness of violations of international human rights laws and standards in 18 oral and four written statements to the UN Human Rights Council, in submissions to UN Special Procedures, and Monitoring Bodies and in communications to domestic authorities.

LRWC work was effective and contributed to exposure of wrongdoing, remedies for victims of abuse, and enhanced understanding of international law protections. All of this important work was done pro bono by LRWC volunteers It has been an honour working with LRWC members and partners and sharing in their passionate work to defend defenders, uphold the rule of law and maintain the integrity of legal systems around the world.

Thank you to all LRWC volunteers, members, and donors on behalf of LRWC, its partners, and victims of human rights violations.