Establishing the foundation

Below is a short film in which Hans Gaasbeek, initiator of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, explains how the organization was established and what its purpose is.


The coordinator and initiative-taker Hans Gaasbeek published the attached article in the Liber Amicorum of professor Peter van Koppen: Bakens in de Rechtspsychologie. This article gives a clear view of the way of working of the foundation in the Philippines. The article is about the continuous killings of lawyers in the Philippines. The foundation provides here a continuous support to the colleagues through the years.

The Day of the Endangered Lawyer is a day on which we call for the attention of lawyers all over the world who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, tortured. Even murders and disappearances are not out of the extraordinary. The only reason for this injustice being the fact that they carry out their job and its professional obligations when needed the most.

Systematically impeding lawyers at the exercise of their profession is a serious infringement of human rights in many countries, which does not solely deserve our utmost attention. The victims and lawyers too deserve our full-hearted support for their predicament.

We have devoted our attention to the situation in Iran, Turkey, Basque Country, Columbia, the Philippines, Honduras, China, Egypt, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

For more background information, see the article “Advocaten in Turkije: wie de verkeerde cliënt verdedigt, wordt zelf vervolgd”, as published by De Kanttekening here.

Detailed information and reports are also available at

Why January 24th?

The 24th of January has been chosen to be the annual International Day of the Endangered Lawyer because on this day in 1977 four lawyers and a coworker were murdered at their address at Calle Atocha 55 in Madrid, also known as the Massacre of Atocha. In memoriam:

Ángel Rodríguez Leál
Luis Javier Benavides
Enrique Valdevira
Serafín Holgado
Francisco Javier Sauquillo

Four others were heavily injured, but survived the attack.
This event took place in the transitional period after dictator Franco’s death in 1975. Spain was at the edge of a civil war while progressive Spanish politician tried to change the regime from the inside out into a democracy. This transition process suffered from great pressure as a result of the attack and made for some very disquieting weeks to follow. From what we have heard it was the former premier Suárez who, in absence of a dreaded communistic rise, legalized the PCE. Historians regard this decision as a decisive factor for the succeeding of the Spanish transition. Of the perpetrators, who were affiliated with extreme right-wing parties and organizations, one was sentenced to 15 years in prison, another fled to Brazil and the third ended up in jail in Bolivia for drug smuggling.

For more information, see the Wikipedia page.