Together with over 60 human rights organizations, representatives of the civil society and Belarusian lawyers and jurists International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) expresses our deep concern at the detention of lawyers Ilya Salei and Maksim Znak on September 9, 2020, in Belarus, in a criminal case which is undeniably politically motivated. We consider this to be a gross violation of professional rights and privileges and improper interference with their professional legal activities and with their rights to express professional opinions, as established by international legal standards. This case is a direct consequence of a dire situation, problems and violations of professional rights of attorneys and lawyers and overall functioning of the legal profession in the Republic of Belarus.
We urge the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to:
- immediately release lawyers Maksim Znak and Ilya Salei and comply with international legal standards of the independence of legal profession and the exercise of the right to defense;
- stop the persecution of lawyers and attorneys who are exercising their constitutional right of freedom of expression by expressing their opinions while performing their professional functions;
- strictly observe the provisions of Art. 62 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus: “everyone has the right to exercise and protect rights and freedoms, including the right to use at any time the assistance of lawyers and their other representatives in court, other state bodies, local government bodies, at enterprises, institutions, organizations, public associations and in relations with officials and citizens. Opposition to the provision of legal assistance in the Republic of Belarus is prohibited by law.
Read the full statement here.