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Report on the situation of legal profession in Belarus

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, in partnership with the World Organization Against Torture, prepared a report on the situation of legal profession in Belarus. This report is being submitted to the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

This report has been prepared in connection with the participation of the Republic of Belarus in the third cycle of the universal periodic review of the UN Human Rights Council.

The following organizations joined the report: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR).

The report provides information on the fulfillment by the Republic of Belarus of universal obligations in the framework of the practice of legal profession.

In particular, the report demonstrates that the Belarusian legislation provides for and practically exercises total control by the state (through the Ministry of Justice) of the activities of bar associations and the work of lawyers. These actions from the state in relation to the legal profession in Belarus indicate the lack of independence of lawyers who perform the functions of providing professional legal assistance. Since the independence of the bar association and members of the bar – lawyers is one of the key guarantees of the right to a fair trial, the report emphasizes that in Belarus at the system level, the exercise of this right is not ensured.

Over the past few years, this problem has been systematically raised by international human rights organizations and by Belarusian human rights organizations in the UN treaty bodies.

HFHR actively supports human rights organizations from Belarus in working with the UN treaty bodies, and promotes the importance of the topic of the independence of the legal profession in Belarus among the international community.

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