The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has condemned the arrests of thee lawyers representing Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny (pictured).
The human-rights group has called for the immediate release of Vadim Kobzev, Alexey Liptser and Igor Sergunin, and for all charges against them to be dropped.
The IBAHRI says that the. three lawyers were arrested on 13 October, “seemingly as a direct consequence of discharging their professional duties in defence of Alexey Navalny”.
A statement from the organisation added that Russian authorities carried out searches at the residences and legal offices of the three lawyers on the same day, confiscating equipment and privileged documents.
The lawyers stand accused of associating with an extremist group, under article 282.1 of the Russian Criminal Code.
The potential prison term associated with these charges ranges from two to six years, according to the IBAHRI. Additionally, it entails the freezing of their assets and the suspension of their ability to practice law.
‘Direct violation’ of rights
The organisation points out that the detention of the three lawyers leaves Navalny without legal representation at a time when he is being moved to a ‘special regime’ detention facility, “where he will likely be at heightened risk of ill-treatment”.
IBAHRI co-chair Anne Ramberg said: “The detention of Alexey Navalny’s lawyers is not only a direct violation of their rights but, by preventing them from representing Mr Navalny, it entails yet another breach of his fair-trial rights and an attack on the independence of the legal profession in Russia.”
It adds that United Nations principles on the role of lawyers require governments to guarantee that lawyers are able to carry out their legitimate professional activities without fear of reprisals, harassment, persecution or undue interference.