Citizens Can Lose Legal Protection - Lawyers

Baku / 19.10.17 / Turan: A group of lawyers held a press conference in connection with the forthcoming changes in the legislation regarding the institution of representation in the protection of citizens" rights. These changes, which will be submitted for discussion in the Milli Majlis on October 20, will affect the Civil Procedure, Administrative Procedural Codes and the Law on Advocates and Lawyers.

The legislative initiative comes from the Supreme Court.

The text of the bill has not been published. However, according to the information available to lawyers, according to the draft law, lawyers who are not members of the Bar Association will be restricted in the right to represent individuals in the judiciary. Lawyers do not agree with these changes.

Lawyer Ramil Suleymanov brought disappointing statistics to the audience, according to which there are only 936 members of the Bar Association in the country for 10 million people. "It turns out that for every 11,100 people there is only one lawyer. About 100 out of 936 members of the Bar Association do not work as lawyers. Some of them are engaged in business, and some are represented in state structures and cannot engage in advocacy. Of the remaining 836 people, approximately 700 work in Baku. It turns out that in the regions of the country there are only about 150 lawyers, and thus the residents of the regions receive legal assistance mainly at the expense of representatives," Suleymanov said.

In neighboring Georgia, for example, there are about 5,000 lawyers per four million inhabitants. It should be noted that the number of registered candidates for the Bar Association is only 1,019 people. Even if you imagine that all these candidates without examinations will be admitted to the Bar, this problem with lack of lawyers will not be corrected.

The lawyer added that the authorities, accepting such changes, appeal to international practice, where only members of the Bar Associations are engaged in civil and administrative matters, and this guarantees high-quality legal assistance. "In foreign countries, not only lawyers, but also legal representatives defend people. For example, in the U.S. legal representatives are engaged in 27% of all civil cases and 92% of cases involving pensions. In the world practice there is no concept of legal assistance only from the Bar Association members," he said.

Lawyer Khalid Bagirov said the authorities should wonder whether legal assistance should be an appointed institution. "Over time, the institution of representation has turned into an institution of legal assistance for the reason that the institute of advocacy in the country proved ineffective. Now the authorities say the institution of representation should be liquidated because of poor-quality legal services. This is absurd. If the authorities want to improve the quality of legal services, the Bar must be improved. A total of 13,000 of only criminal cases are considered in Azerbaijan for a year. If the changes are accepted, lawyers who do not cope with 13 thousand criminal cases will have to deal with 150 thousand cases - criminal, civil and administrative. This will lead to paralysis of the country's legal system," the expert said.

Bagirov pointed to the weak state legal protection of citizens.

"To date, the state allocates 5 cents for legal assistance to each citizen. In neighboring Turkey, this figure is set at 1 euro. If you want to improve the quality of legal aid, increase the amount. No lawyer will defend a citizen for 2 manat per hour," Bagirov stressed.

According to the lawyer Farhad Mehdiyev, if the institution of representation is abolished, then in the conditions of a small number of lawyers, they will start to treat cases selectively. They will choose cases that bring in a good income, and the poor will not be able to go to court. In this case, Article 6 of the European Convention is violated, the main thesis of which is that the courts should be accessible to every citizen. Often, representatives provide free legal assistance, and with the adoption of amendments this will become impossible.

At the same time, he noted that representation should be dealt with by graduated lawyers.

Lawyer Samed Rahimli noted that as a result of reforms carried out by the authorities in the legal sphere, there is regression.

At the same time he drew attention to the fact that many practicing lawyers began to function outside the Bar through the institution of representation. "Many lawyers for their independent position have been expelled from the Bar. In Azerbaijan, the biggest problem of lawyers is that they can be complained about by the Bar in a court of law and dismissed from their lawyers" practice. Due to the fact that the Bar is not an independent body, lawyers whose views are contrary to the opinion of state bodies are beginning to be intimidated with dismissal from the Bar, an organ that should protect the rights of lawyers," Rahimli said.

According to the lawyer, changes in the legislation will lead to the fact that the effectiveness of legal assistance will weaken. "All cases will be transferred to lawyers whom the state authorities can easily neutralize," the expert said.

In addition, the liquidation of the institution of representation will limit the capacity of citizens to lodge complaints with the European Court of Human Rights, the expert said. -0-

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