What we do

L4L provides moral and/or legal support to oppressed lawyers and lawyer’s organizations.

L4L provides worldwide moral and/or legal support to lawyers and organizations of lawyers that are being oppressed. L4L aims to adjust its support in asmuch as this is possible to the specific needs of the lawyer or organization involved. We are able to provide help at short notice.

Moral support

L4L brings the position of threatened lawyers throughout the world to the attention of national and international institutions and organizations, such as the United Nations, the European Parliament, and the relevant authorities. L4L also organizes fact-finding missions, observation missions and letter-writing actions, as well as a column in the lawyer’s magazine Advocatenblad.

Fact-finding missions

For the first time in 2006, L4L organized a fact-finding mission to the Philippines. The purpose of the mission was to investigate the background to the murders of Philippine lawyers and judges, and inform the world of the results. The mission also served to express our solidarity with our Philippine colleagues. An independent delegation of eight Belgian and Dutch lawyers and judges conducted interviews in the Philippines with, a.o., (next of kin of) victims and representatives of lawyers and human-rights organizations, and the Philippine authorities. The results of the mission have been published in the report “From facts to Action. Report on the attacks against Philippine Lawyers and Judges”, which was presented to the Philippine embassy in The Hague.

Observation missions

A tried and tested method to silence lawyers is to convict them and/or have them disbarred, based on fabricated charges. In the proceedings preceding the conviction, the principles of due process are frequently and seriously violated. For that reason, L4L sends lawyers or judges to attend and report on trials against lawyers, which trials are most likely being held for political reasons.

Letter-writing campaigns

On a regular basis, we support lawyers by writing letters to the authorities of the country where the lawyer is based. To increase the effect of these letter-writing actions, we aim to have them coincide with letter-writing actions of international human-rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights First. The effect or our letter-writing actions increases even more if large numbers of individual lawyers would write them. For that reason, L4L has set up a database of lawyers that have agreed to these actions. If you want to help other lawyers by writing letters, please contact us. We will keep you informed of our letter-writing actions through email. We will also send you a format for a letter that you can use, as well as the contact details of the relevant authorities. To ensure that the authorities are aware of you being a lawyer, we request you to print the letters using the letterhead of your firm. We would appreciate it if you could send us copies of the letters you send, so that we will know exactly which lawyer has received special attention, as this may contribute to future actions.

Publications

L4L publishes its regular column “Prosecuted Lawyers” in the lawyer’s magazine Advocatenblad. The column usually focuses on a particular lawyer being threatened, who urgently needs our support. If we are conducting a letter-writing action for such a lawyer that you feel you can participate in, we will certainly include that information in the column.

Financial support

As part of its activities, L4L provides occasionally financial support to lawyers forced to flee their country, for example because their lives are being threatened. We also provide funding for fact-finding and observation missions, Legal Rights Awareness Campaigns, press conferences, conferences and symposia on or for the benefit of threatened lawyers, or we enable such lawyers to participate in those events. We also provide more practical support, such as providing a laptop or other tools.

Legal support

If needed, we will mobilize lawyers to provide legal support to oppressed lawyers. Such was the case in the Lebanon, where local lawyers were afraid to continue their representation of lawyer and human rights activist Muhamad Mugraby once it became clear that Mugraby’s lawyers were also being suspended and their work obstructed. At the request of the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, L4L formed a team of Dutch lawyers to represent Mugraby. Lawyers Willem van Manen, Leo Spigt and Phon van den Biesen even obtained authorization from the Lebanese authorities to represent Mugraby in all instances.