Lawyers play a vital role upholding human rights, so governments must ensure they can perform their duties without harassment

Letters to the Editor

09 Dec 2015 18:29:14

Sir, On International Human Rights Day, we reiterate the protections signed up to in the UN basic principles on the role of lawyers. Legal professionals play a vital role upholding human rights. Governments must ensure that lawyers are able to perform all their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.

Just two weeks ago the human rights lawyer Tahir Elci was assassinated in Turkey; this year alone 200 lawyers have been arrested in China. The Law Society urges governments across all international legal jurisdictions to do more to protect lawyers.

Where lawyers are unable to practise for fear of arrest, detention or intimidation, they cannot properly protect people facing violations of their human rights.

Fundamental rights are also under threat closer to home. The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill does not give statutory protection to legal professional privilege, so clients may not be guaranteed the confidentiality that is vital to a fair trial. Legal professional privilege supports the process of law, speeding the conviction of the guilty and securing the acquittal of the innocent.

 

Jonathan Smithers

President of the Law Society