The following report is modified from the presentation given by Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, to the IADL’s Bureau Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, which took place between November 30 and December 2, 2018.
The IADL is planning for its 2019 Congress, which will bring together people’s lawyers around the world for several days of education, programming and activities on major issues facing people’s movements today.
In the second half of 2019, IADL and its affiliates around the world have been engaged in an extensive array of activities and legal work to support human rights and international law.
In Bali, Indonesia, COLAP (Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific) organized an International Conference on the West Pacific Zone of Peace in coordination with the SPHP, progressive lawyers of Indonesia. In addition to the COLAP members on IADL’s Bureau, the conference was also attended by President Jeanne Mirer, Vice President Roland Weyl and UN Human Rights Committee representative Micol Savia.
The international conference accompanied an executive meeting of COLAP. The conference issued a declaration, and also allowed IADL to discuss with North and South Korean friends an incident which involved the kidnapping of some North Korean women who were working in China to the South. This incident has been causing tensions between the governments of the North and South. IADL may also hold its next bureau in conjunction with the COLAP executive in Malaysia in 2019.
Jeanne Mirer also attended the International People’s Tribunal on the Philippines in Brussels. IADL was a co-organizer of this event, and many IADL lawyers and Bureau members participated in the proceedings. General Secretary Jan Fermon served as a prosecutor, while Roland Weyl was one of the jurors. Neri Colmenares and Edre Olalia also serced as prosecutors.
The IPT was very successful with so many witnesses exposing the crimes of the Duterte regime that the press in the Philippines made him respond to the allegations made at the Tribunal. While this was the 4th People’s Tribunal on the Philippines, all of which received publicity in the Philippines, this one was the first time the President was forced to respond to the allegations of the witnesses by the Filipino media.
Jeanne Mirer was able to attend the Moscow conference on Peace in the South China Sea along with Roland Weyl and Micol Savia. This conference was very well organized and there were many proposals for the peaceful resolution of the disputes in the South China Sea discussed. Ms. Thanh has worked with Evelyn to produce the most recent issue of the Review of Contemporary International Law in which papers on this subject are compiled.
Bernard Bokodjin was able to attend the SADC (South African Development Community) Lawyers Conference where Max Boqwana was elected president. All reports from the conference were very positive, and IADL sends its congratulations to Max Boqwana on his election.
Micol Savia, Carlos Orjuela and other members of the IADL Bureau participated in the Human Rights Academy of the Aegean, convened in Izmir, Turkey. The Izmir conference provided many international lawyers with the opportunity to connect with their Turkish partners, as well as to support Turkish lawyers facing persecution and arrest.
The National Lawyers Guild also held its Convention in November 2018, and the International Committee organized workshops on Palestine, the Philippines and labor rights in the Americas. Jeanne Mirer, Suzanne Adely and others participated in the convention, which also included a Continuing Legal Education program on Protecting the Future. The seminar combined presentations on using legal actions to protect the environment and to protect the right to vote.
Luis Carlos Moro, the Secretary General of the AAJ, shared important information about the situation in Brazil at the IADL’s Brussels bureau meeting in June 2018, with the concern that with Lula’s imprisonment and the right wing in ascendency Brazilian elections were headed for a Bolsonaro victory. Although we did what we could to support the Brazilian popular movements, the forces of reaction were able to convince enough people that Bolsonaro would bring positive change that he has been successful in winning the presidency. His statements regarding repression of progressive movements and supporting torture etc. will have far reaching effect in the next period. The Landless workers movement (MST) which has been a major progressive force is under threat of being labeled a terrorist organization. The IADL is committed to working to support people’s movements in Brazil facing repression and the threat of fascism.
The IADL is also planning further activities related to the situation of Turkish lawyers. The IADL affiliate in Turkey, CHD, has come under harsh repression and multiple leaders, including the CHD’s president Selçuk Kozagaçli, an IADL Bureau member, are under arrest. Bill Bowring noted that Turkey has formed a human rights commission that it is using to attempt to prevent people from going to the European Court of Human Rights. The IADL will be taking further actions to defend lawyers in Turkey under attack and facing persecution for their work to defend their clients.
The IADL is also organizing a global lawyers’ petition to the ICC prosecutor to go open a full investigation into Israeli violations of the Rome Statute filed in particular by PCHR and the Palestinian Authority. The idea for this petition was a follow up to the meeting several members including Richard Harvey, Jan Fermon, Micol Savia, Lennox Hinds and Carlos Orjuela had with a representative of the prosecutor’s office in May. It has been patterned after the petition IADL circulated to free Nelson Mandela.
In addition to the petition, Carlos organized a side event at the All State Parties meeting on the ICC on December 10, featuring Tahseen Elayyan, program director of Al-Haq, and Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. They focused on international responsibility to prosecute international crimes committed against the Palestinian people.