Lawyers who defended opposition keep their license

Belarusian Ministry of Justice decided that two lawyers: Hanna Bakhtsin and Daria Lipkin, who defended opposition activists, will not lose their license to practice law. The two barristers were facing a threat of having their license revoked, after a local branch of professional commission issued negative evaluation of their work.

– Decision of the local commission was baseless. It is difficult to say, why it was issued, because everything happened behind a closed doors. It is also unclear, why the session was even held, there were no new law adopted at the time. But, thanks God, Ministry of Justice commission corrected all the „mistakes“ – said Hary Pakhniayla, head of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.

According to Pakhniayla, decision to revoke the lawyers‘ license was not an accident. „It’s quite probable, that the entire action was meant to scare barristers. It was decided after the major political trials, who took toll also on the defenders of the political prisoners.“ Today, finding a lawyer who would take a case of a dissident, is extremely difficult.

Hanna Bakhtsin and Daria Lipkin defended in court Irina Khalip, an independent journalist and a dissident Mikita Likhavid, who were arrested during a December 19th demonstration against election fraud. The two lawyers lost their license to practice law on July 26th.

Lawyers who represented opposition members in courts have had their license revoked by the Belarusian Ministry of Justice. Paval Spielka – the lawyer who defended former presidential candidate Andrei Sanyo, was excluded from the Minsk Board of Barristers, which de facto means he lost the right to practice law. Tamara Harayeva and Uladzimir Tovstsik were first subjected to pressure from authorities to withdraw from representing Irena Khalip. They finally yielded and quit Khalip’s case. Dropping the case they already agreed to take was found illegal in the Belarusian law and used as an excuse to revoke their license. Another two lawyers who lost their right to appear in court are Alekh Akheyu and his mother – Tatsiana Akhayeva, who both represented Ales Mikhalevich. They were accused of „serious violations of the legal counsel agreement“ and „submitting untruthful information to the license-issuing institution“.


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