Toolkit for Lawyers at Risk

Module 1 | Module 2 | Module 3

“The freedom of lawyers to practise their profession without undue hindrance is an essential component of a democratic society…”

On 24 January, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, the IBAHRI in cooperation with its long-term partners – the Bar Human Rights Committee, Human Rights House Foundation, Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada – launched the Toolkit on Lawyers at Risk.

MODULE 1: International legal protection of lawyers and those exercising lawyers’ functions

With lawyers at the forefront of protecting human rights, the effective implementation of United Nations and regional laws and standards relating to the independence and safety of the legal profession is at the heart of promoting and protecting human rights around the world.

MODULE 2: Risk assessment and risk management in the exercise of lawyers’ functions

Lawyers play a key role in ensuring access to legal assistance, the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence, equality of all before the law and the court, and respect for human dignity and human rights. International and regional norms and standards1 guarantee the independence of the legal profession, and the principle of non-interference by state and non-state actors within their professional activities. The same guarantees are often provided for in states’ domestic law.

For lawyers to fully perform their professional activities, states must ensure, at the legislative level and in practice, their independence and equality in judicial proceedings, as well as lawyers’ safety and security.

The absence of proper protection mechanisms for lawyers’ safety cannot but negatively affect the quality of lawyers’ activities.

It is necessary for lawyers to be aware of the risks they may face and develop a security plan to address those risks.

MODULE 3: The response chain to violations against lawyers

With lawyers at the forefront of protecting human rights, they are also more susceptible to being coerced in their work. Lawyers are thus subject to harmful legal reforms and financial measures, arbitrary disbarment or criminal proceedings, judicial harassment, verbal threats or harassment, shaming media campaigns, assault or physical violence, arbitrary detention, torture or other forms of ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, murder or extrajudicial killing, restriction on travel, movement or participation in events, and pressure and/or attacks on family members.

What response can national and international human rights mechanisms provide?

This Toolkit was developed with the objective of fostering lawyers’ capacity to resort to international norms and recommendations, and engage with international and regional human rights mechanisms so that lawyers can be the first actors in their own protection.