Petition to the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP)

Press release

The Hague, 13 September 2016

Dear members of the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate,

The undersigned organisations appeal to you to take steps to ensure prosecutors comply with the Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors [1].

By fighting crime in a professional and legal manner, prosecutors play an essential role in protecting the rights and freedoms of the inhabitants of the country they are serving. We recognise the commitment and sacrifice that in many cases are required from prosecutors to fulfil this role in a proper manner.

At the same time, we observe situations in which prosecutors are involved in procedures and prosecutions that violate basic rights laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent international covenants, conventions and other instruments, to which the Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors [2] as well as national professional ethical standards refer.

A particularly worrying development is the increase in the prosecution of Human Rights Defenders (persons and organisations covered by the 1998 UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [3]). The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in 2013 reported that she had seen “the space for civil society and defenders visibly shrink in certain regions of the world”, accompanied by “the consolidation of more sophisticated forms of silencing of their voices and impeding their work, including the application of legal and administrative provisions or the misuse of the judicial system to criminalise and stigmatise their activities.” [4]

The precise role of prosecution services and individual prosecutors in these practices depends on the design of the judiciary system in the respective countries, but in most if not all cases they will be in direct violation of key provisions of the Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors. The International Association of Prosecutors should in our view urgently develop procedures to address this gap between professional ethics and practice [5]..

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  • Co-signatories

    Supporting organisations:

    Netherlands Helsinki Committee,The Hague
    Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw
    International Commission of Jurists, Geneva
    Amnesty International the Netherlands, Amsterdam
    Advocacy Advisory Panel, Kyiv
    Article 19, London
    Association, Bern
    Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, Kyiv
    Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, Vilnius
    Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Minsk
    Bir-Duino Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
    Center for Civil Liberties, Kyiv
    Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Moscow
    Civil Rights Defenders, Stockholm
    Civil Society Institute, Yerevan
    Committee for Prevention of Torture, Nizhny Novgorod
    Free Press Unlimited, Amsterdam
    Front Line Defenders, Dublin
    Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
    Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor, Yerevan
    Helsinki Committee of Armenia, Yerevan
    Human Rights Center Georgia, Tbilisi
    Human Rights Center Azerbaijan, Baku
    Human Rights Club, Baku
    Human Rights Embassy, Chisinau
    Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo
    Human Rights House, Zagreb
    Human Rights Information Center, Kyiv
    Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Vilnius
    India Committee of the Netherlands, Utrecht
    International Center on Conflict and Negotiation, Tbilisi
    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    International Partnership for Human Rights, Brussels
    International Youth Human Rights Movement
    Justice and Peace Netherlands, The Hague
    Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Almaty
    Kharkiv Regional Foundation Public Alternative, Kharkiv
    Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, Prishtina
    Lawyers for Lawyers, Amsterdam
    Moscow Helsinki Group, Moscow
    Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Utrecht University, Utrecht
    Netherlands Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (NJCM), Leiden
    Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Oslo
    People in Need, Prague
    Platform London, London
    Promo-LEX Association, Chisinau
    Public Association Dignity, Astana
    Public Foundation Voice of Freedom, Bishkek
    Public Verdict Foundation, Moscow
    Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Baku/ Tbilisi
    Swiss Helsinki Association, Lenzburg
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders


    Memo on the Role of the IAP in Upholding Compliance of Prosecutors with Professional Standards

    The Hague, 20 August 2016

    The following measures are suggested as a possible model to uphold compliance of the IAP members with the Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors:
    -  To initiate a dialogue in the IAP on the introduction of a transparent monitoring and reporting cycle or audit procedures to review performance of existing institutional/ country members against the standards to which they have committed when joining the IAP;
    -  To introduce a complaint mechanism when actions of individual IAP members are concerned,
    accessible to members of the public affected by their actions, as well as human rights groups and civil society organisations;
    -  To establish a provisional or “on-hold membership” status for IAP members that have been proven to fail to live up to human rights obligations, embedded in the IAP membership commitments;
    -  To open up channels of communication and information-sharing with civil society organisations,
    including through providing a possibility of reporting for coalitions of NGOs during the IAP annual conferences, as well as through an “urgent appeal” procedure to the IAP Executive Committee in situations where the IAP members can play a role in preventing grave human rights abuse;
    -  To initiate a special interest group or committee within the IAP focusing on challenges and responses in dealing with prosecution of Human Rights Defenders, protected by international standards, and other serious human rights violations.

    Netherlands Helsinki Comittee
    Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

  • Member organisations - Netherlands
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