Elimination of Institution of Representation to Weaken Human Rights Activists - Lawyers

Baku / 16.10.17 / Turan: Representatives of the democratic public criticized the amendments proposed in early October to the parliament, which are liquidating the institution of legal representation.

The amendments suggest that only lawyers will be able to protect citizens in civil and administrative matters, and in criminal proceedings.

This was discussed at an event on Saturday with the participation of lawyers and civil society activists, titled Elimination of Institution of Representation: Who Will Defend Citizens?

"The rights of civil society, NGOs and media are limited in the country, many websites are blocked, well-known lawyers are excluded from the Bar under various pretexts," Abulfas Gurbanli, Board member of the Civil Movement NIDA, said, opening the meeting.

Now the authorities decided to limit the rights of lawyers. "Previously, the territory where the rally was held could be entered from any side, and now it is allowed only through one entrance, citizens are subjected to a thorough examination by the police, and cameras are installed for the recognition of people. The last step of the authorities to limit rights was the idea to liquidate the institution of representation.

The purpose of today"s event is to achieve public censure," Gurbanli added.

The lawyer Ruslan Aliyev noted that the deterioration of the situation with lawyers occurred in two stages.

"Until 2015, representatives could be present at the testimony of witnesses in criminal cases. Then they were deprived of this right and it was handed over to lawyers. Now representatives will be deprived of the right to speak on civil cases in state bodies and courts. This area, too, is going to be transferred to the monopoly of lawyers.

There are very few lawyers in Azerbaijan and they simply cannot physically handle many cases. The transfer of this area to lawyers is argued by the fact that they want to improve the quality of legal services. But in fact, the quality of services will only worsen.

Most cases going to the European Court of Human Rights are drawn up by representatives. However, in order to send a complaint to the ECHR it is necessary to go through all the judicial instances inside the country, but in case of changes in the legislation, representatives will not be able to appear in the courts," Aliyev said.

The lawyer Neymat Kerimli also noted that lawyers will not be able to deal with all matters, since they will not have enough time for this and citizens will be left without elementary legal assistance.

"Adoption of these amendments to the law will violate the Constitution and the European Convention, since everyone has the right to receive high-quality legal assistance.

In Germany, there are cases involving only representatives, while lawyers do not have the right to deal with these cases. Elimination of the institution of representation will lead to nothing good," Kerimli said.

The lawyer Rovshan Rahimli stressed that no one knows why there are changes in the legislation. "However, one thing is certain: the liquidation of the institution of representation will lead to tragedy.

"I think that taking the changes, they should have used Russian practice, in the sense that only persons with a legal education should be representatives," Rahimli added.

The lawyer Samira Agayeva noted that there are only 904 lawyers for population of the 10 million people. This is very small and they will not have time to deal with all matters that will leave the citizens without protection. With regard to some NGOs, the media are being prosecuted, and when their employees are called in as witnesses for questioning, representatives come to them. In most cases, they do it for free. Lawyers for these cases cannot work for free. In addition, the number of cases going to the ECHR will decrease," Agaeva added.

Answering the questions of those present, lawyers stressed that the purpose of changes in the legislation is to restrict the activities of lawyers specializing in the field of human rights. In addition, the almost forcible attraction of lawyers to the Bar will lead to the dependence of new lawyers on the Bar. -045C--

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