Today (24 January) is the annual International Day of the Endangered Lawyer.
24 January was selected in memory of the Massacre of Atocha which occurred this day in 1977 when four labour lawyers and a co-worker were murdered, and four others were badly injured at their address at Calle Atocha 55 in Madrid, Spain.
The purpose of this International Day is to raise awareness about the threats the lawyers face in the exercise of their profession.
This year, the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer focuses on Afghanistan and the dire situation they face.
Previous dedications have been to Colombia (2022 and 2014), Azerbaijan (2021), Pakistan (2020), Turkey (2019 and 2012), Egypt (2018), China (2017), Honduras (2016), the Philippines (2015), Basque Country/Spain (2013), and Iran (2010).
International law expressly recognises the unique role that lawyers play in any society. Because lawyers serve as the guardians of justice for all, international law accords lawyers special protections.
UN Basic Principles explicitly recognise the “vital role” that bar associations play, and also underscore lawyers’ rights of “freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly,” and specifically state that bar associations must be permitted to “exercise [their] functions without external interference.”
The European Young Bar Association (EYBA), an association representing young lawyers, is backing the push to improve the situation of Afghan lawyers in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.
In addition to the limitations on fundamental human rights and reprisals against lawyers, judges and prosecutors that should be condemned, the EYBA, expresses its concern about limitations to education, and access to the legal profession, imposed by the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice in Afghanistan.
This will affect the new generations, more than others, the EYBA points out.