Death threat against lawyer Rocco Galati

Re: Death threat against lawyer Rocco Galati

To: The Honourable Michael J. Byrant, Attorney General for the Province of Ontario, Toronto Mayor David Miller and Toronto Chief of Police Julian Fantino.

From: Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC

Date: 2003-12-04

LRWC is alarmed that no special security measures are in place to protect the personal safety and professional independence of prominent defense lawyer Rocco Galati. The telephone death threat evinced a clear message that continuing to act on cases involving allegations of connections with terrorists might cost him his life.

Failure to effectively investigate this threat against Mr. Galati and to provide Mr. Galati with security that is adequate to protect both his life and his freedom to fully represent his clients constitutes an egregious violation of Canada’s national and international legal duties.

None of the human rights that we enjoy in Canada are stand-alone rights. All depend on a chain of interdependent legal principles and rights starting with the rule of law—a state of affairs in which there are legal barriers to government arbitrariness and legal safeguards for the protection of individuals. The rule of law requires the law to be the guardian of justice: a guarantee against tyranny. The rule of law in turn depends on all citizens having access to remedies for violations of rights and for rights enforcement which rights in turn depend on access to full legal representation—i.e. access to their own guardians. Human rights have proven to be illusory in jurisdictions that do not give priority to effectively safeguarding the independence and security of lawyers and other human rights advocates.

The person(s) who threatened Mr. Galati’s clearly intended their threats to curtail his capable representation of cases involving allegations of terrorism and the rights to counsel of those and other accused. “Well Mr. Galati. What’s this I hear about you working with the terrorist now, helping to get that …punk terrorist Khadr off. You a dead wop.”

Reliable independence and safety guarantees that allow lawyers Best regards, to fully and vigorously represent clients are the foundation of effective rights implementation and enforcement. When there has been a violation of a lawyer’s right to represent a client criminally charged, the state must move quickly to bring the perpetrator to justice and to protect the targeted lawyer or risk censure of the prosecution.

International instruments that bind Canada to guarantee advocacy rights include: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Latimer House Guidelines for the Commonwealth and American Convention on Human Rights.

Attacks on lawyers representing politically sensitive cases are a common occurrence in countries that lack reliable enforcement of human rights. The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Attacks on Justice 2002 edition, documented in 46 states, 315 jurists targeted with reprisals for carrying out their professional duties including 38 murdered, 5 disappeared and 44 prosecuted, arrested, detained and/or tortured between January 2000 to November 2001. Deaths occur most frequently against a background of government inaction, inadequate protection and ineffective investigation of threats. We must not allow such a slide in Canada.

LRWC urges you to immediately ensure: 1. the conduct of an effective investigation of the threat against the life of Rocco Galati directed towards the identification of the perpetrator(s) through prosecution and trial; and, 2. Security for Mr. Galati that is adequate to ensure his physical safety and to enable him to continue to vigorously represent clients and causes that may be unpopular to the Canadian government.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We would appreciate a reply and remain willing to assist.