Jurists under fire worldwide, report says
Aug 10 2000 , GENEVA (Reuters) - More than 400 judges and lawyers in
nearly 50 countries suffered reprisals last year, including death, kidnappings
and arrests, an international human rights monitoring group said Friday.
Colombia, which topped the list of dangerous places for legal practitioners,
accounted for eight of the 16 jurists' deaths reported worldwide in the
year to last February, according to the Center for the Independence of
Judges and Lawyers.
Another 10 jurists were kidnapped and 14 threatened or assaulted in
the South American country, engulfed in a long-running war between government
forces and Marxist rebels.
The 10th annual report by the Geneva-based Center, entitled ``Attacks
on Justice -- The Harassment and Persecution of Judges and Lawyers,'' paints
a bleak picture of lawyers, prosecutors and judges on all continents being
attacked by state agents, paramilitaries or rebels.
``From January 1999-February 2000, at least 412 jurists suffered reprisals
in 49 countries for carrying out their professional duties,'' it said.
``Of these, 16 were killed, 12 disappeared, 79 were prosecuted, arrested,
detained or even tortured, eight physically attacked, 35 verbally threatened
and 262 professionally obstructed or sanctioned.''
Lawyers face ``persistent harassment, including through detention and
unreasonable government regulation of their activities'' in Belarus, Egypt,
Tunisia, Sudan, Azerbaijan and Iran, according to the report.
In Colombia, at least 102 lawyers, judges, prosecutors and other judicial
officials were the target of violent acts during 1999 and early 2000, it
said. ``Most of the jurists are attacked or harassed for trying to investigate,
prosecute or try alleged perpetrators of human rights violations.''