Canada/Egypt: Day of the Endangered Lawyer Recap | Event

LRWC co-hosted three events across Canada on 24 and 31 January 2018 to commemorate and support the global Day of the Endangered Lawyer.  LRWC’s participation was part of worldwide events in 34 cities to reflect on the personal and professional safety of lawyers around the world, who face mounting persecution, prosecution, arbitrary detention, threats, torture, assaults and death in reprisal for their work to protect rights and secure justice.  In 2018 the focus was on the plight of lawyers in Egypt.


As part of the global 2018 Day of the Endangered Lawyer activities on January 24th, a panel discussion was held at the University of Victoria’s faculty of law, organized by LRWC, in partnership with student club LEVEL. Justice. Ragia Omran (by video from Cairo), prominent lawyer and human rights activist in Egypt, 2017 recipient of the prestigious Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, spoke about the repressive regime in Egypt, the challenges and obstacles she continues to face from the Egyptian authorities. She implored LRWC members, as her legal colleagues, to please keep the people of Egypt, especially the human rights advocates and lawyers, on our radar and in our thoughts. Dr. Martin Bunton, Professor at the University of Victoria History Faculty, spoke about the history of the 2011 Arab Uprisings with a focus on Egypt, highlighting how this has affected human rights. M.T., law graduate from Turkey and Convention refugee to Canada, spoke about his experience as a law graduate in Turkey, and about the arrests and detention of lawyers and judges in Turkey following the 2016 attempted military coup. Renée Mulligan, LRWC Director and Megan Presnail, LWRC Myanmar Monitor, moderated the panel.


LRWC hosted a panel discussion in Halifax at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Law, in partnership with the CBA Young Lawyers and Human Rights Sections and the John E. Reid International Law Society. Danny Graham, QC, prominent Halifax lawyer, spoke about his international work and lessons learned in the field as an advisor to Justice Canada and the United Nations, as well as a consultant to the governments of Thailand, Jamaica, Tanzania and Ukraine. Christine Hanson, CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, spoke of her immense global work which included working as the deputy director of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the Criminal and Security Law sections and serving at Canada’s Mission to the United Nations in New York. Both panelists focused comments on the important work completed by human rights defenders. Angela Walker, LRWC volunteer, moderated the panel and gave an introductory presentation on human rights defenders in Egypt.


In Toronto the Day of the Endangered Lawyer was marked on 31 January with a sold-out event at the Law Society of Ontario sponsored by LRWC, the Law Society of Ontario and Human Rights Watch. Farida Deif of Human Rights Watch interviewed Mr. Adel, an Egyptian human rights lawyer now living in Canada who was able to share both professional and personal perspectives on the decline of the rule of law and the persecution of lawyers for political purposes under the guise of state security and anti-terrorism. Their discussion was followed by a reception where Gavin Magrath and Cindy Song represented LRWC, discussing work on behalf of human rights defenders and Ms. Song’s personal experiences as a Chinese-trained lawyer.