April 29th marks the birthday of disappeared Razan Zaitouneh, lawyer, head of the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC) and winner of 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom Thought. The European Bar Human Rights Institute (IDHAE) calls for her immediate return and that of her colleagues Samira Khalil, Nazem Hamadi and Wa’el Hamada, to whom she is married, collectively known as the Douma Four.
Since their disappearance human rights organisations, politicians and activists have called for their release. However, these calls have been met with silence-more must be done by the international community and Governments to ensure their safe return.
On 9 December 2013, the four human rights defenders were kidnapped during a raid by an armed group on the offices of the VDC in Douma, near Damascus, and have not been heard from since. There has been no news of their whereabouts, status or health over 17 months after their abduction.
The VDC was active in monitoring and reporting on human rights violations in Syria and it is believed that the abduction of the four activists is a direct result of their peaceful human rights work. In the months prior to her abduction Razan Zeitouneh wrote about threats she had been receiving and informed human rights activists outside Syria that local armed groups in Douma were threatening her. A number of armed groups including the Army of Islam headed by Zahran Alloush, exercise de facto control over Douma. In April 2014, her family issued a statement holding Alloush responsible for her and her colleagues’ wellbeing, given the large presence his group maintains in the area.
The 2015 Day of the Endangered Lawyer was held on Friday January 23rdrd.
On that day the spotlight was on the situation of lawyers in the Philippines.
Basic report for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2015
Matrix of Attacks on Filipino Lawyers and Judges as of November 15 2014
Letter of the Filipino ambassador in Rome and an administrative order of the president of the Philippines
Letter of the Filipino ambassador in Paris
Military and police chided by court for threats on human rights lawyer
Notice of Judgment: Salucon vs Aquino
Letter of the Filipino ambassador in Berlin
Letter to the president and judges of the Audiencia Nacional (Spanish high court)
More recent information about injustices against lawyers anywhere in the world is available at www.advocatenvooradvocaten.nl.
Haarlem lawyer executed by the Germans
Herbert Drilsma (born 1906) was a lawyer in Haarlem, The Netherlands who alongside with nine other people was executed in the dunes at ‘het Kopje van Bloemendaal’. He was a well known lawyer and politician in his time. The Jewish community too knew him well. Drilsma was a member of the municipal council of Haarlem on behalf of the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDAP) when the Germans refused him access to the council’s boardroom in 1941.
The reason for his execution was the murder of a German soldier in Haarlem on January 30th 1943. Even though the perpetrator was never found, the Germans seized and captured more than a hundred men from the Haarlem area without hesitation. They were supported by local members of the NSB (a Dutch political movement who were in favour of the German regime), amongst them was the notorious Jan Nederkoorn. From this group, ten people were picked for execution. Two memorial stones are placed on the exact same spot in the dunes, and a sign was placed in Haarlem’s city hall in memory of this retaliation. Besides Drilsma, Frank and Chapon, J. Th. Lebbe, K.F. Reumann, W. de la Rie, R. Strengholt, S.N. Warmenhoven, P. Wey and I.F. Zwanenbeek were also victims. Why exactly these ten people were picked remains unknown (source: wimdewagt.nl (Dutch)).