Free Public Lecture: FREE HER! Women Political Prisoners

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers invites you to our next lecture in our Human Rights Lecture Series: Free Her!  Women Political Prisoners.

Download the poster (pdf).

6.30pm to 8.30pm at Basement Lecture Theatre (GSB01), School of Law, London Metropolitan University, 16 Goulston Street, London, E1 7TP. 
Closest tubes: Aldgate or Aldgate East.

Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2016

Protests take place around the world

Members of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and other campaigners attend outside the Honduran Embassy in London.

Members of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and other campaigners attend outside the Honduran Embassy in London.

Members of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers joined lawyers around the world to protest at Honduran Embassies against the treatment of human rights defenders in Honduras.

The protests, facilitated by organisations connected to our partners the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights, and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, highlight the role of international solidarity in protecting human rights defenders.


Stand up for those who defend human rights in Honduras

Members of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers hand in a petition to the Honduran Embassy in London.

Members of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers hand in a petition to the Honduran Embassy in London.

The following letter, signed by leading members of the Society, was published in The Guardian on 22 January 2016:

We write to highlight that Friday 22 January 2016 is the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. Lawyers in the UK will be picketing the Honduran embassy to highlight the plight of lawyers and human rights defenders in that country who face violent attacks and human rights violations on a daily basis.
In 2013 there were 29 violent acts against lawyers, of whom nine were injured and 24 died. In 2014 the national commissioner for human rights recorded the death of 11 lawyers. Between 2010 and March 2015 the commissioner recorded 91 deaths of lawyers as a result of targeted killings.
So bad is the situation that both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in their most recent world reports highlighted the fact that scores of human rights defenders, including indigenous and campesino leaders, LGBTI activists, justice officials and journalists were victims of human rights violations, suffering killings, physical violence, kidnapping, threats, and daily harassment. We cannot let their voices remain unheard.
We believe that lawyers in Honduras should be allowed to perform their professional duties without any intimidation, and that adequate protection needs to be provided by the state, especially when their lives are at risk as a result of the exercise of their profession.
Our aim in picketing on Friday is to highlight the ongoing wave of violence directed at lawyers and human rights defenders in Honduras. Alongside our call for members of the public to protest this Friday, we urge your newspaper to join us in raising awareness, and to support our campaign for the unwavering protection of those who work tirelessly to promote and defend human rights around the world.
Russell Fraser Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Prof Bill Bowring President, ELDH European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & Human Rights
Michael Mansfield QC
Geoffrey Bindman QC
John Hendy QC
Catrin Lewis Barrister, Garden Court chambers
Louise Christian Vice-president, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
David Watkinson Barrister (non-practising)
Paul Heron Solicitor, Public Interest Lawyers
Wendy Pettifer Solicitor, Hackney Community Law Centre

Images of protest from around the world

Solidarity with Plane Stupid Activists

On Monday 25 January 2016 in the trial of the Plane Stupid climate change activists the Haldane Society invites our members to attend to hear the closing arguments at Willesden Magistrates' Court

Closing submission speeches from the lawyers will be given at 10am and the judgement from the Judge will be given from 2pm.

Please join us at 2pm INSIDE the court to hear the verdict (or 10am if you would like to hear the closing speeches) and OUTSIDE the court from around 3:30pm, for a Post-Verdict demo and statement from the 13 Plane Stupid defendants.

(N.B. Please allow up to 30 mins for security checks)

Closest tube is Neasden, on the Jubilee Line.

Solidarity with Leigh Day - Respect the Independence of Lawyers

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers expresses its deep concern regarding the referral of Leigh Day to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.  The behaviour of senior political figures and the media in relation to this matter represents a concerted attempt to discredit Leigh Day and prevent it from effectively representing Iraqi detainees in the current legal challenge against the Ministry of Defence for torture suffered at the hands of the British military.  The Haldane Society is concerned that the Government is attempting to manipulate bodies aimed at regulating the legal profession to prevent torture victims from accessing justice and redress in the courts and more widely to escape accountability for international law violations which may have been committed in Iraq.  We also believe that the Government is utilising the allegations made by the Solicitors Regulation Authority against Leigh Day to stifle debate among the British public about potential human rights abuses committed during the Iraq war and to push through legislation which will make the Human Rights Act less accessible in the courts.

The Haldane Society is concerned that Leigh Day’s referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal was a politically motivated action for several reasons. Leigh Day was not given adequate time to respond to the allegations made against it by the Solicitors Regulation Authority regarding the firm’s conduct at the Al-Sweady Inquiry.  The Solicitors Regulation Authority asked for Leigh Day’s response to eight allegations in mid-August 2015 and, according to Leigh Day, it was agreed that the firm would have until the end of October to respond.  Ten days before Leigh Day was due to serve its response, the Solicitors Regulation Authority sent a further set of allegations and refused to allow Leigh Day extra time to answer both sets of allegations. The Solicitors Regulation Authority subsequently referred Leigh Day to the tribunal. The Haldane Society maintains that the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s refusal to allow Leigh Day additional time to respond to numerous allegations against it and its hasty move to refer the firm to the Tribunal appears to be motivated not by a desire to investigate breaches of professional conduct but to block human rights claims against the Government and discredit claimants and their lawyers. 

 

Secondly, the Haldane Society believes that the Government’s shameless interference in this matter also reflects its political interest in the firm's referral to the tribunal. Comments made in the press by Conservative MPs labelling Leigh Day as ‘immoral, thieving, ambulance chasing lawyers’ is an attempt to smear and discredit the potentially genuine claims of Iraqi torture victims through undermining the work and reputation of their lawyers.  The Haldane Society believes that this is a violation of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the United Nations: lawyers must be free to perform their professional functions without ‘intimidation, harassment or improper interference’. The Basic Principles also state thatlawyers ‘shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions’ for any work which is undertaken in accordance with ethics and their professional duties. While the Haldane Society is unable to comment on the veracity of the allegations made against Leigh Day, we do believe that the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s premature referral of the firm to the Tribunal and the Government’s venomous attacks on Leigh Day accompanied with the media’s vilification of the firm represent a violation of these Basic Principles.  Although the Government may oppose the allegations made by Iraqi civilians who claim to have been tortured by British soldiers, it is actively violating Basic Principle 18 through its demonising of Leigh Day as the claimants’ legal representatives. Leigh Day must not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions, but this is precisely what the Government is doing by interfering with this disciplinary matter and placing pressure on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to prematurely escalate the investigation into Leigh Day’s conduct. 

The Haldane Society opposes the Government’s manipulation of this matter to push through legislation which will curtail the public’s access to justice and the right to hold the Government accountable for human rights violations.  The proposed introduction of government powers to decide which claims can and cannot be brought in court against it is a violation of the rule of law and access to justice and compromises the independence of the judiciary. 

The Haldane Society opposes any form of intimidation, bullying and persecution of lawyers across the globe and extends its support to Leigh Day.  The Haldane Society opposes the government’s use of an instrument intended to regulate the legal profession to advance its political agenda and stifle political dissent. The Haldane Society stands behind Leigh Day and any other member of the legal profession challenging the government’s human rights abuses, both in the UK and internationally, and supports the vital work which lawyers do to facilitate their clients’ right to have their cases and evidence heard and tested in court.

Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2016: Honduras

22 January 2016 is the international Day of the Endangered Lawyer. This year focuses on the plight of lawyers in Honduras.

Since the 2009 coup d’etat there has been an increase in violent attacks and human rights violations that have gravely affected the Honduran population. As Amnesty International report in their 2014/15 ‘State of the World’s Human Rights’:

“Scores of human rights defenders, including Indigenous and campesino leaders, LGBTI activists, justice officials and journalists were victims of human rights violations. They suffered killings, physical violence, kidnapping, threats, harassment and verbal attacks.”

Human Rights Watch in their annual report commented that:

“Honduras suffers from rampant crime and impunity for human rights abuses…Judges face acts of intimidation and political interference”

The situation facing lawyers in Honduras is dire. The statistics are alarming. In 2013 there were 29 violent acts against lawyers of which 9 were injured and 24 died. In 2014 the national commissioner for human rights recorded the death of 11 lawyers. From between 2010 and March 2015 the Commissioner has recorded 89 deaths of lawyers as a result of targeted killings.

On Friday, 22nd January 2016 protests will take place outside Honduran Embassies and Consulates all over Europe. In London, lawyers, paralegals and campaigners, with the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, the UK member association of ELDH, will be protesting outside the Honduran Embassy. A petition on behalf of the Honduran lawyers and other law professionals will be handed over to the Ambassador.

There is a Facebook event available at https://www.facebook.com/events/1241952505820312/

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Solidarity with Plane Stupid Activists

The Haldane Society recognises that ecological destruction is driven by capitalist, colonial, and patriarchal domination. Climate change is an urgent issue and we have little hope that the December 2015 UN climate talks - officially sponsored by multinational companies vested in fossil fuels such as EDF and Air France - will yield a globally binding agreement to dramatically reduce emissions that we need.

Our solidarity is with grassroots activists fighting for a decent future for all species. We also recognise the need for and support non violent direct action on climate change, such as the recent actions by Plane Stupid in July and in November 2015 focused on Heathrow (this included a protest on the runway at Heathrow in July and blockading tunnel at Heathrow in November).  We support the Plane Stupid defendants who have their trial scheduled for 18 - 29 January 2016 at Willesden Magistrates' Court.

Click here to find out about court solidarity dates.

Women Fighting Back: International and Legal Perspectives - CPD Available

Barristers can now obtain BSB approved CPD hours for the conference.  You will need to have already bought your ticket to the conference at the relevant price for your income. 

Our socialist and feminist commitment to supporting low-income members of the legal profession means that if you are on a low income and are unable to afford the full cost of CPD hours then we will be happy to agree a lower rate.  Please contact secretary@haldane.org to discuss this.

UPDATE: Ticket purchases have now closed.

Women Fighting Back: International and Legal Perspectives - Workshop Signup

Select Your Workshop Session

Attendees of the International Women's Conference 28-29 November 2015 will need to select their choices for the workshop sessions.  Nine or 10 workshops will run in each of the three sessions.  Attendees must make their selections on the form below by Friday 27 November 2015 at 17:00.  Please also provide us with any languages required for interpretation, and any other information we will need to be aware of on the day.

UPDATE: Registration has now closed and anyone not having signed up will need to sign up on Saturday or Sunday morning.

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