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Defending the right to defend: IOL demands end to harassment of lawyers Botagoz Jardemalie and Ana Ursachi

The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (IOL) recently published two statements expressing its concern for Ana Ursachi and Botagoz Jardemalie, both lawyers and human rights defenders, from Moldova and Kazakhstan, respectively.

These statements bring to the table the worrying conditions in which human rights defenders operate in non-democratic states like Moldova and Kazakhstan. In both countries, some lawyers are subjected to prosecution for their involvement in politically sensitive cases.  

Ms. Ana Ursachi is a victim of the deterioration of democracy in Moldova. She is well-known for her involvement in the defense of the interests of opponents to the Moldovan oligarch and politician Vladimir Plahotniuc. Condemned for political reasons, she is now in exile in Poland and at risk of being detained. In their statement, the IOL recalls the 16th and the 18th Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the United Nations in Havana in 1990, aiming to ensure that lawyers “are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and “shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions” (Principle 16), whoever their clients are (Principle 18).

Ms. Botagoz Jardemalie, whose case was also recently raised by the CCBE in a letter addressed to President Nazarbayev, is well-known for being a counsel to Mr  Mukhtar Ablyazov, the main opposition figure in Kazakhstan. Currently in Belgium, where she was granted political asylum, she remains at risk of extradition since she has already been targeted (in 2013) by a Kazakhstani request for a Red Notice, which was finally cancelled for “non-compliance with INTERPOL’s rules against political abuses of the Organization”. Her brother, Iskander Yerimbetov, is currently a political prisoner being kept as a hostage of the Kazakhstani regime. Imprisoned, he has been a victim of torture and ill-treatment, as confirmed by international observers and psychologist.

The IOL urges the authorities of Kazakhstan and of Moldova to “comply with the standards set forth by the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” and to guarantee lawyers’ ability to perform their duties “freely and independently”, “ending any form of intimidation or harassment” against themselves or their relatives. Finally, the IOL calls on Kazakhstan and Moldova to respect and promote “freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer”.

  • Download statement on Botagoz Jardemalie [ENFR]   
  • Download statement on Ana Ursachi [ENFR]

Read our reports:

  1. Report: Iskander Yerimbetov – political hostage of Nazarbayev’s regime
  2. Report: The authorities of Moldova roll back the democratisation process and fail to fulfill their obligations to the EU
  3. Report: The list of Kazakhstani political prisoners and other victims of politically motivated prosecution
  4. Moldova: in violation of the right to defence, court issued an order to arrest counsel Ana Ursachi

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