Justice Defenders Program

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Promoting, Supporting, and Advocating for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession

Photo Credit: Lapatilla.com; Judges for Judges, Lawyers for Lawyers; Amnesty International; Lawyers for Lawyers


  • Helped secure the release of attorneys (including one judge) detained in prisons or psychiatric hospitals in retaliation for their work in the Middle East, Central Asia, Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. (2011 – 2015)
  • Secured a major international award for a Guatemalan judge who had faced reprisals for her opposition to granting an amnesty for those alleged to have committed war crimes. (2015)
  • Contributed to efforts to raise the public profile of an attorney wrongfully detained in the Middle East and secure a letter on his behalf signed by 67 members of the U.S. Congress. (2015)
  • Monitored a trial in Brazil which resulted in the first sentence in federal court of police officers who killed a human rights attorney investigating police misconduct. (2015)
  • Secured financial and pro bono assistance for an attorney in Latin America so she could continue representing community members displaced without compensation during the construction of a hydroelectric dam. (2014 – 2015)
  • Issued a thematic report on surveillance of human rights attorneys in Colombia. (2015)
  • Participated in high level delegation to Colombia to investigate violent threats and reprisals against human rights attorneys. (2014)
  • Successfully petitioned the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights for protective measures for a human rights attorney in the Caribbean who had received death threats. (2014)
  • Observed proceedings to select new high court judges and a prosecutor general in Guatemala in response to concerns that judges and prosecutors involved in important human rights cases would not receive equal treatment in the selection process. (2014)
  • Participated in side event during head of state summit in Washington DC on promoting judicial independence in Africa and issued report on best practices. (2014)
  • Advised Eurasian attorneys facing frivolous disciplinary proceedings on international standards concerning attorney disbarment.
  • Submitted an amicus brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights arguing that Colombia has the obligation to investigate the torture and extrajudicial killings of judges detained during a siege of the Palace of Justice. (2013)
  • Supported civil society groups in Bulgaria who successfully argued for the reinstatement of a judge removed from the bench in retaliation for her public critique of political interference in the judiciary. (2013)
  • Persuaded the Prosecutor General of Colombia to drop frivolous charges against a women’s rights attorney and provide her additional security guards after a shooting at her office. (2012)
  • Contributed to a petition to European Court of Human Rights on behalf of judge removed from the bench in retaliation for authorizing an investigation into alleged war crimes. (2011)
  • Successfully petitioned the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of an attorney in Southeast Asia that was sentenced to over two years in prison for his human rights advocacy. (2011)
  • Summer 2015 Update

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