Petition to the International Association of Prosecutors

The Hague, 5 September 2017

Dear members of the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate,

dear members of the IAP,

In the run-up to the annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) in Beijing, China, the undersigned civil society organisations urge the IAP to live up to its vision and bolster its efforts to preserve the integrity of the profession.

Increasingly, in many regions of the world, in clear breach of professional integrity and fair trial standards, public prosecutors use their powers to suppress critical voices.

In China, over the last two years, dozens of prominent lawyers, labour rights advocates and activists have been targeted by the prosecution service[1]. Many remain behind bars, convicted or in prolonged detention for legal and peaceful activities protected by international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Azerbaijan is in the midst of a major crackdown on civil rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, imposing hefty sentences on fabricated charges in trials that make a mockery of justice[2]. In Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey many prosecutors play an active role in the repression of human rights defenders, and in committing, covering up or condoning other grave human rights abuses[3].

Patterns of abusive practices by prosecutors in these and other countries ought to be of grave concern to the professional associations they belong to, such as the IAP. Upholding the rule of law and human rights is a key aspect of the profession of a prosecutor, as is certified by the IAP’s Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, that explicitly refer to the importance of observing and protecting the right to a fair trial and other human rights at all stages of work[4].

Maintaining the credibility of the profession should be a key concern for the IAP. This requires explicit steps by the IAP to introduce a meaningful human rights policy. Such steps will help to counter devaluation of ethical standards in the profession, revamp public trust in justice professionals and protect the organisation and its members from damaging reputational impact and allegations of whitewashing or complicity in human rights abuses.

For the second year in a row, civil society appeals to the IAP to honour its human rights responsibilities by introducing a tangible human rights policy. In particular:

We urge the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate to:

  • introduce human rights due diligence and compliance procedures for new and current members, including scope for complaint mechanisms with respect to institutional and individual members, making information public about its institutional members and creating openings for stakeholder engagement from the side of civil society and victims of human rights abuses[5].

We call on individual members of the IAP to:

  • raise the problem of a lack of human rights compliance mechanisms at the IAP and thoroughly discuss the human rights implications before making decisions about hosting IAP meetings;
  • identify relevant human rights concerns before travelling to IAP conferences and meetings and raise these issues with their counterparts from countries where politically-motivated prosecution and human rights abuses by prosecution authorities are reported by intergovernmental organisations and internationally renowned human rights groups.

Supporting organisations:

Amnesty International

Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, Benin

Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa, Kwekwe

Article 19, London

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Asia Justice and Rights, Jakarta

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Chiang Mai

Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong SAR

Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong SAR

Association for Legal Intervention, Warsaw

Association Humanrights.ch, Bern

Association Malienne des Droits de l’Homme, Bamako

Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, Kyiv

Associazione Antigone, Rome

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, Vilnius

Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Minsk

Bir-Duino Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Sofia

Canadian Human Rights International Organisation, Toronto

Center for Civil Liberties, Kyiv

Centre for Development and Democratization of Institutions, Tirana

Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Moscow

Center for the Judiciary Watch of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), Seoul

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, Hong Kong SAR

Civil Rights Defenders, Stockholm

Civil Society Institute, Yerevan

Citizen Watch, St. Petersburg

Collective Human Rights Defenders “Laura Acosta” International Organization COHURIDELA, Toronto

Comunidad de Derechos Humanos, La Paz

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, Lima

Destination Justice, Phnom Penh

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Kampala

Equality Myanmar, Yangon

Faculty of Law – University of Indonesia, Depok

Fair Trials, London

Federation of Equal Journalists, Almaty

Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience, Hanoi

Free Press Unlimited, Amsterdam

Front Line Defenders, Dublin

Foundation ADRA Poland, Wroclaw

German-Russian Exchange, Berlin

Gram Bharati Samiti, Jaipur

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor, Yerevan

Helsinki Association of Armenia, Yerevan

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw

Human Rights Center Azerbaijan, Baku

Human Rights Center Georgia, Tbilisi

Human Rights Club, Baku

Human Rights Embassy, Chisinau

Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo

Human Rights Information Center, Kyiv

Human Rights Matter, Berlin

Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Vilnius

Human Rights Now, Tokyo

Human Rights Without Frontiers International, Brussels

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Budapest

IDP Women Association “Consent”, Tbilisi

IMPARSIAL, the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, Jakarta

Index on Censorship, London

Indonesian Legal Roundtable, Jakarta

Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, Jakarta

Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Tirana

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, Tbilisi

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Partnership for Human Rights, Brussels

International Service for Human Rights, Geneva

International Youth Human Rights Movement

Jerusalem Institute of Justice, Jerusalem

Jordan Transparency Center, Amman

Justiça Global, Rio de Janeiro

Justice and Peace Netherlands, The Hague

Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Almaty

Kharkiv Regional Foundation Public Alternative, Kharkiv

Kosovo Center for Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption – KUND 16, Prishtina

Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, Prishtina

Lawyers for Lawyers, Amsterdam

Lawyers for Liberty, Kuala Lumpur

League of Human Rights, Brno

Macedonian Helsinki Committee, Skopje

Masyarakat Pemantau Peradilan Indonesia (Mappi FH-UI), Depok

Moscow Helsinki Group, Moscow

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Kampala

Netherlands Helsinki Committee, The Hague

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Utrecht University, Utrecht

NGO “Aru ana”, Aktobe

Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO), Bahawalpur

Pen International, London

Philippine Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Manila

Promo-LEX Association, Chisinau

Protection International, Brussels

Protection of Rights Without Borders, Yerevan

Public Association Dignity, Astana

Public Association “Our Right”, Kokshetau

Public Fund “Ar.Ruh.Hak”, Almaty

Public Fund “Ulagatty Zhanaya”, Almaty

Public Verdict Foundation, Moscow

Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Baku/ Tbilisi

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Lagos

Stefan Batory Foundation, Warsaw

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Petaling Jaya

Swiss Helsinki Association, Lenzburg

Transparency International Anti-corruption Center, Yerevan

Transparency International Austrian chapter, Vienna

Transparency International Česká republika, Prague

Transparency International Deutschland, Berlin

Transparency International EU Office, Brussels

Transparency International France, Paris

Transparency International Greece, Athens

Transparency International Greenland, Nuuk

Transparency International Hungary, Budapest

Transparency International Ireland, Dublin

Transparency International Italia, Milan

Transparency International Moldova, Chisinau

Transparency International Nederland, Amsterdam

Transparency International Norway, Oslo

Transparency International Portugal, Lisbon

Transparency International Romania, Bucharest

Transparency International Secretariat, Berlin

Transparency International Slovenia, Ljubljana

Transparency International España, Madrid

Transparency International Sverige, Stockholm

Transparency International Switzerland, Bern

Transparency International UK, London

UNITED for Intercultural Action the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities, Budapest

United Nations Convention against Corruption Civil Society Coalition

Villa Decius Association, Krakow

Vietnam’s Defend the Defenders, Hanoi

Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, Saigon

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Harare

 

[1]As documented by a number of internationally renowned human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and the ICJ. See, for example, the HRW World Report 2017, China and Tibet, available at: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/china-and-tibet; China: call for action at UN on lawyers and other human rights defenders, available at: https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/UN-HRC34-China-JointLetter-Advocacy-2017.pdf

[2]The Functioning of the Judicial System in Azerbaijan and its Impact on the Fair Trial of Human Rights Defenders, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Netherlands Helsinki Committee 2016, available at: http://www.defendersorviolators.info/judiciary-in-azerbaijan.

[3]See, for example: Human Rights and the Professional Responsibility of Judges and Prosecutors in the Work of CCJE and CCPE. Observations to the CCJE-CCPE Joint Report on “Challenges for Judicial Independence and Impartiality in the Member States of the Council of Europe”, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights 2017, available at: https://www.nhc.nl/assets/uploads/2017/06/20170331-Observations-to-CCJE-CCPE-Report.pdf

[4]Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors adopted by the International Association of Prosecutors on 23 April 1999.

[5]See, for example, Options for Promoting Human Rights Compliance by the International Association of Prosecutors, policy brief, October 2016.

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