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January 24, 2023

Lawyers Under Threat: Highlighting Their Plight

January 24 marks the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer 

In the latest Just Security article, “Lawyers Under Threat: Highlighting Their Plight,” written by Jasmine D. Cameron, Senior Legal Advisor for Europe, and Eurasia for the ABA Center for Human Rights, recognizes the international legal community day of the endangered lawyer and highlights this year's initiative organized by the Coalition for the Endangered Lawyer. The Coalition is an informal network of national and international organizations and bar associations, including the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights.

“On this Day of the Endangered Lawyer, the international legal and human rights community must redouble its efforts to monitor cases against lawyers worldwide, raise awareness about this problem at the international level, and conduct more vigorous advocacy in domestic, regional, and international institutions to hold governments accountable for violations.”

Each year, the initiative focuses on one country where lawyers face the most challenging conditions to perform their professional duties. This year’s focus is on Afghanistan, where lawyers not only face extreme difficulties professionally, but also struggle with dire humanitarian challenges. Last year, recognizing these challenges, the ABA launched the Afghanistan Response Project to draw upon more than 30 years of international development experience and offices in more than 50 countries to provide pro bono support to Afghan judges and lawyers in refugee camps seeking permanent homes for themselves and their families.

In the case of Afghanistan, Margaret Satterhwaite, newly-appointed U.N. Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Richard Bennett, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, issued a statement to mark the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. They wrote, “The States and other actors that were long involved in efforts to improve access to justice and strengthen the rule of law [in Afghanistan] now have a special responsibility to support those individuals who face hardship, exclusion, and risks to their safety as a result of their work within and for the legal system.”

The article discusses current international legal standards to protect lawyers and explores challenges lawyers face because of their work including disbarments and disciplinary procedures, and frivolous civil and criminal suits and other types of harassment. Cameron goes on to discuss what the international community can do to respond to these challenges.

Learn more by reading the full article here.

About the Author

Jasmine D. Cameron

Jasmine D. Cameron (@JasmineDCameron) is the senior legal advisor for Europe and Eurasia with the American Bar Association’s Justice Defenders Program. She previously served and lived overseas for many years, working for the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. State Department. Ms. Cameron worked as a staff attorney and legal advisor for the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, helping to implement an anti-corruption and rule of law program while navigating a challenging political environment. She also served as a political officer for the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, working on elections and internal politics during the first free elections in Georgia. Ms. Cameron has worked on a range of issues relating to rule of law, legal development in transitional democracies, and drafting legislation in developing countries in line with international standards and norms.

Ms. Cameron holds a J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law, a law degree from Kyrgyz National University, and a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from the Bishkek University of the Humanities. She is also on LinkedIn.

The statements and analysis expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors. The Board of Governors of the American Bar Association (ABA) has neither reviewed nor sanctioned its contents. Accordingly, the views expressed herein should not be construed as representing the position or policy of the ABA. Furthermore, nothing contained in this paper is to be considered rendering legal advice for specific cases, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel.