Home > Appeals and Statements, English > Oppression of Freedom of Expression: Beirut Bar Association Opens an investigation against Two Prominent Lawyers for Expressing their Opinions

Oppression of Freedom of Expression: Beirut Bar Association Opens an investigation against Two Prominent Lawyers for Expressing their Opinions

Beirut, 19 September 2011

Frontiers Ruwad Association urges Beirut Bar Association to drop the pre-disciplinary investigation procedures opened against two defense lawyers, Carlos Daoud and Nizar Saghieh, on grounds the former for writing a legal article and the latter for publishing it in a specialized publication “Legal Agenda”, issue of July 2011. The article criticizes the Bar’s draft internal regulation project that aims to restrict broadly the members’ right to access the media and hence their freedom of expression on public issues.

Frontiers Ruwad Association is mainly concerned that Beirut Bar Association, a professional body that is supposed to lead the defense of issues related to public freedoms, is, by opening this investigation, violating its own values and norms and mirroring the methods of oppressive regimes to silence lawyers and restrict their involvement in public affairs.

Further, there appears arbitrariness in targeting the two lawyers and there were violations of the minimum standards of fair disciplinary procedures and the right to defense. Both lawyers were summoned orally to a preliminary hearing without being made aware of the offense they are accused of or of its legal ground.

Frontiers is also concerned that members of the Bar Association, the specialized Bar’s committees such as the Committee for the defense of public freedoms, and the Council of the Bar, have so far kept aside and just witnessing this oppression. Such situation raises serious questions: How could a layperson trust the lawyers to defend him/her when they do not rise and defend their colleagues’ rights when their basic and fundamental human rights are oppressed? How could the Rule of Law in Lebanon be respected if the institution that gathers the largest number of law professionals is oppressing the freedom of its members?
Should the NGOs defend lawyers instead of the latter defending the human rights issues and causes that the civil society is advocating for?

Frontiers Ruwad Association urges Beirut Bar Association to drop the investigation initiated against Me. Daoud and Me. Saghieh. We also urge the Council of the Bar and the lawyers members of the Bar to ensure that no such oppressive measures are taken against any lawyers, so that the freedom of expression and all freedoms are on top of all priorities. Lawyers have an opportunity to stress that their freedoms are guaranteed and protected, and to impose this to be a priority on the programs of all candidates of the forthcoming Bar elections, so that the elections are not solely and mainly guided by political affiliations rather by the commitment to the Bar mission as a professional body and a defender of rights and freedoms.

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