The research group of young human rights defenders of the Institute for Democratic Initiatives (IDI) released a report on politically motivated obstacles to the professional activities of lawyers in Azerbaijan.
They identified a number of shortcomings in the laws that constitute the legal basis for advocacy. Thus, the law on lawyers and advocacy declares their confidentiality when communicating with clients, but does not spell out the consequences in case of obstacles to the work of lawyers by judges, government agencies and third parties.
Not a single legislative act defines the legal framework for restricting the freedom of expression of a lawyer, the secrets of the preliminary investigation, the disclosure of which does not entail disciplinary liability. In practice, however, this framework is arbitrarily set by investigators and prosecutors.
The law on advocates and advocacy does not establish the grounds and criteria for excluding defenders from the Bar Association.
The legislation does not specify the time frame for government agencies to respond to requests from lawyers and measures of responsibility for not providing answers.
The lawyers interviewed by the authors of the study complained about restrictions on freedom of expression.
In addition, according to the results of media monitoring over the past three years (2018-2020), after the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Lawyers, the access of lawyers to the media has decreased.
Lawyers are faced with the problem of meeting with their clients under various pretexts. Thus, lawyers are required to provide a “letter of permission” from the investigating authority.
In political cases, the practice of violating confidentiality and censoring the documents of lawyers when visiting their clients is widespread.
46.7% of lawyers stated that they were subjected to checks in places of detention. 80.7% of lawyers said that it was in political cases that their confidentiality was violated.
Lawyers also complain about the violation of the adversarial principle. 93.8% of the respondents stated that their applications were unreasonably rejected.
Most often, requests for disciplinary punishment of lawyers come from the prosecutor’s office, courts and the penitentiary service.
In particular, lawyers are persecuted for making public violations of the rights of their clients in political cases during the preliminary investigation. As soon as they file a petition to investigate the lawlessness, they are immediately sent complaints to the Bar Association.
Although the law allows disciplinary proceedings only for the professional activities of lawyers, in practice they are punished for personal assumptions and expressions.
Source: Turan News Agency