Appeal to defend Crimean lawyer and human rights activist Lilia Hemedzhy in connection with her illegal prosecution by a Russian court
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union considers the persecution of lawyers and human rights defenders in the occupied Crimea unacceptable and calls on the global community to defend Lilia Hemedzhy, a lawyer who is under pressure from the occupying authorities.
On August 17, 2020, the Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don issued a separate ruling, which could lead to the prosecution of lawyer Lilia Hemedzhy and deprivation of her right to practice law.
According to the court, Lilia Hemedzhy was alleged contemnor, repeatedly violated the rules of procedure of the court session, argued with the presiding judge, and disobeyed the bailiff’s requirements. This led to a court ruling and referral to the bar to take action against the lawyer.
On October 27, 2020, despite a well-founded complaint by Hemedzhy’s representatives, the Court of Appeal upheld a separate ruling.
As is well known, Lilia Hemedzhy is a lawyer for human rights activist Server Mustafaiev, whom she represented in court for several years in a row. On September 16, 2020, the same military court sentenced Mustafaiev to 14 years in a maximum security prison. The activist is recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience. In addition, Lilia defends the Crimean people in other politically motivated criminal cases initiated after the Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula.
UHHRU has every reason to believe that it was Hemedzhy’s active position as a lawyer and human rights activist in the politically motivated case of Server Mustafaiev that was the main reason for the court’s ruling against her.
In our view, such actions by Russian courts are in fact aimed at disqualifying lawyer Hemedzhy from carrying out her professional activities and creating obstacles to the protection of persons “unfavorable” to the Russian Federation and its occupation regime in Crimea. We agree with the human rights activist that the ruling against her is aimed at “creating an irreversible, cooling effect on the professional activity of a lawyer both in this case and in general”.
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) strongly condemns the judgments of the Russian military courts against Lilia Hemedzhy and demands their annulment. Such actions are evidence of the ongoing bias of the Russian courts against lawyers who protect the rights of Crimeans in the courts, and especially in politically motivated cases. Such pressure on Ukrainian lawyers undermines their right to a fair trial, guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which has been ratified by the Russian Federation, and adds to the list of crimes committed by the occupying Crimean authorities against citizens.
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