27, Oct 2018 | CJP Team
The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which represents the Bars of 45 countries, and, through them, around one million European lawyers, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the arrest lawyers Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj. The letter, penned by CCBE President Antonín Mokry, notes that the CCBE “places great emphasis on respect for human rights and the Rule of Law, and is particularly concerned with the situation of human rights defenders around the world.”
Mokry’s letter discusses the arrests of Ferreira and Bharadwaj noting that these “were part of a larger raid against other human right defenders made in a coordinated crackdown by Pune police in various parts of India, under several charges, including terrorism-related charges”. Mokry writes that it was reported that Bharadwaj was unable to understand some documents presented to her following her arrest were in Marathi, saying this “seems to be in violation of certain provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973 (Sections 165 and 166).” The letter states, “We also understand that she had been the target of a defamatory media campaign which has branded her as a ‘Maoist’”.
The letter highlights the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, particularly, Principles 16 and 17 on Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers. Attached to the letter are the basic principles in question, with numbers 16 and 17 being:
“16. 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, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
17. Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”
In light of these, the CCBE has urged Modi “to ensure that Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj are immediately released as it is believed that these arrests are solely motivated by their activity as a lawyer.” Moreover, it calls on Modi “to take all the necessary measures to guarantee that all lawyers in India are able to perform their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation or harassment, in order to preserve the independence, integrity of the administration of justice and the Rule of Law.”
The letter may be read here: