This year, BHRC – in a project led by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and in cooperation with its partners Human Rights House Foundation, Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada – launched a Toolkit for Lawyers at Risk. The Toolkit on Lawyers at Risk is a unique tool aimed at facilitating the efforts of those seeking to protect lawyers at risk – that is, attacked for performing their professional duties and representing their clients’ interests – as well as to support and assist the targeted legal profession in their struggle. BHRC Executive Committee Members Dr Theodora Christou and Kate Stone, along with member John Cubbon, contributed to the Toolkit on behalf of BHRC.
The toolkit was launched on the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer (24 January). In June this year, the accompanying International Legal Digest: Lawyers’ protection and states’ obligations was published by the group.
This month, Dr Christou has written an article in the September issue of Counsel Magazine to detail the components of the Toolkit, which is divided into three training modules and two practical tools. The training benefits legal practitioners by furthering their knowledge about international human rights systems and laws, risk management strategy, and how to trigger relevant international response mechanisms, while the practical tools include a Legal Digest which lists international standards to assist lawyers with “the drafting of legal complaints relating to violations of a lawyer’s rights” and a directory of organisations supporting lawyers’ work.
Dr Christou used her experience of working with BHRC to demonstrate the Toolkit in action by citing examples of how BHRC used these tools effectively to support lawyers at risk around the world. She writes, “[…] the willingness of the BHRC to publicly meet and support lawyers at risk, has meant that they often feel more protected. We have heard this from lawyers in Cameroon, Nepal, Mexico and around the world.”