UN Report: Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers


In the present report, which is being submitted pursuant to resolution 44/8, the Special Rapporteur addresses the issue of the protection of persons who practise law, since the free exercise of the legal profession is an indispensable element of the judicial guarantees that ensure a fair trial and the protection of human rights. The Special Rapporteur describes the international and regional standards that are aimed at protecting the legal profession.

The Special Rapporteur notes with concern a global increase in practices that undermine, limit, restrict and hinder the practice of law. This is especially true for lawyers whose activities are focused on the fight against corruption, the defence of human rights or the protection of groups in vulnerable situations.

In his report, the Special Rapporteur identifies trends and patterns of interference in and attacks on the legal profession. He also describes the means used to carry out such attacks, including interference in bar associations, legislation, physical and psychological abuse of lawyers and their families, defamation in the media and in social media, arbitrary disciplinary proceedings, use of the judicial system and the police corps. The Special Rapporteur has also identified violations of professional secrecy, as well as searches of the offices of legal professionals and seizure of their property.

The Special Rapporteur stresses that persons who practise law play a fundamental role in the consolidation of the rule of law and the protection of human rights. States have a duty to guarantee that these persons can exercise their profession without undue restrictions. The Special Rapporteur concludes his report with recommendations to member States on how to protect persons practising law.