Human Rights Monitoring Group Update – February 26, 2016

Posted: 02/26/2016

Human Rights Monitoring GroupThe Human Rights Monitoring Group (the “Monitoring Group”) is a group of appointed benchers, established in 2006 to monitor human rights violations that target members of the legal profession and the judiciary as a result of the discharge of their legitimate professional duties.

Today, the Law Society has released four public statements expressing grave concerns about the following human rights lawyers:

Haae Phoofolo, Christopher Lephuthing, Koili Ndebele, Khotso Nthontho, and Tumisang Mosotho in Lesotho

Haae Phoofolo, Christopher Lephuthing, Koili Ndebele, Khotso Nthontho and Tumisang Mosotho are lawyers representing 23 soldiers accused of plotting a mutiny with ex-army chief Maaparankoe Mahao (killed on June 25, 2015). It has come to the Law Society’s attention that the lawyers have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by members of the Lesotho Defence Forces and Special Forces. Additionally, the lawyers have discovered they are on a ‘hit list’, published on social media at the end of October 2015. Two individuals who appeared on a similar list last year were killed shortly after its publication. On February 12, 2016, the Law Society received reports that Khotso Nthontho was arrested on allegations of perjury. After his release later that day, he returned home to find his house and car had been fired upon and left with extensive damage. This harassment and intimidation stems from the lawyers’ legitimate legal work.

Shu Xiangxin in China

Shu Xiangxin is a prominent human rights lawyer in Shandong province and often defends clients who are involved in politically sensitive cases. It has come to the Law Society’s attention that on January 2, 2016, Shu Xiangxin was arrested, severely beaten, and handcuffed to a staircase for seven hours. Shu Xiangxin suffered numerous injuries to various parts of his body in pre-trial detention. On January 8, 2016, Shu Xiangxin was sentenced to a six-month jail term and had his licence to practise law revoked. Observers at his trial reported that Shu Xiangxin was unable to walk without assistance.

Wang Qiushi in China

Wang Qiushi is a human rights lawyer in Heilongjiang province, often defending clients who are involved in politically sensitive cases. Recent prominent clients include Wei Tingtin, one of five feminists arrested for planning anti-sexual harassment demonstrations, and Wang Quanzhang, a fellow human rights lawyer held in detention since July 10, 2015. The Law Society is concerned as a result of reports that Wang Qiushi disappeared on January 9, 2016, after being summoned by police for questioning. Authorities reported that he is being held in an undisclosed location without any declared reason for his detention. This arrest and detention is preventing Wang Qiushi from carrying out peaceful human rights activities.

Day of the Endangered Lawyer — Ongoing danger to legal professionals in Honduras

The 2016 Day of the Endangered Lawyer was dedicated to lawyers in Honduras. Between 2010 and 2015, a reported 86 legal professionals were murdered. The vast majority of these murders have not resulted in prosecution. The Law Society urges the Government of Honduras to take measures to ensure the safety of legal professionals, per the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.