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Public Statement: Russia (January 2019)

The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the arson attack against lawyer Lyudmila Aleksandrova.
 
Lyudmila Aleksandrova is a lawyer in Russia’s Krasnodar region. Lyudmila Aleksandrova represents clients with criminal and administrative cases against law enforcement agencies.
 
On November 1, 2018, Lyudmila Aleksandrova represented a client, who was the defence’s only witness, in the case of lawyer Mikail Benyash. Her client witnessed the ill-treatment of Mikhail Benyash by the police. The Law Society intervened in Mikhail Benyash’s matter in its letter to President Vladimir Putin dated December 10, 2018.
 
According to credible reports, on the night of November 4, 2018, Lyudmila Aleksandrova’s car was set on fire while parked next to her home. According to Lyudmila Aleksandrova, the damage that incident caused her amounts to 500,000 RUB (approximately 6,600 EUR or 10,200 CAD).
 
Reports suggest that the attack on Lyudmila Aleksandrova was committed in reprisal for her work representing clients in criminal and administrative cases against law enforcement agencies. Reports further indicated that Lyudmila Aleksandrova was previously harassed between 2008 and 2016, when her licence to practice law was withdrawn following a criminal conviction for slander in connection to her complaint to the President of Russia about police violence and raids by militia.
 
The Law Society is seriously concerned by credible reports of Lyudmila Aleksandrova’s situation and urges His Excellency to comply with Russia’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
Article 16 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states:
Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
 
Article 17 states:
Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
 
Article 18 states:
Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.
 
Article 23 states:
Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization.
 
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
 
Article 5 states:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
 
The Law Society urges the Government of Russia to:
  1. ensure that all lawyers in Russia can carry out their professional duties and activities without fear of reprisals, physical violence or other human rights violations;
  2. ensure that all lawyers in Russia are adequately safeguarded by the authorities such that they are able to carry out their professional duties and activities free from intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference, the threat of criminalization, or other human rights violations;
  3. ensure that lawyers shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic, or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards, and ethics; and
  4. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.