Disadvantaged People Could Remain without Legal Protection
2017 November 24 ( Friday ) 12:18:52
On October 6, the Chairman of the Supreme Court submitted to the Milli Majlis bills on changes in the Civil Procedural, Administrative Procedural Codes and the Law on Advocates and Lawyer Activity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The bills proposed to impose a ban on the participation of judicial representatives in civil and administrative litigation. The Supreme Court insisted that only members of the Bar Association take part in these processes. The proposal was quickly adopted by the Milli Majlis.
In connection with this decision, a lawyer, a representative of citizens in trials, Samira Agayeva, answered the questions of Turan.
- With the adoption of laws and codes in the new version, the attitude of courts to you lawyers has changed, but not to the members of the Bar of Azerbaijan. Where could it lead?
- From January 1, when the changes come into force, about eight thousand Azerbaijani lawyers will not be able to protect citizens in courts, help them in drafting legal documents and carry out other professional actions, since they are not members of the Bar Association. The law is changed. We still have the right to speak in the courts, as the law has not come into force, but in 2018 our activities will be interrupted. Lawyers, who spoke at court trials as representatives of citizens, have remained "overboard". Until January 1, we can finish our business, but now notaries do not give a power of attorney to lawyers who are not members of the Bar Association.
- The Bar says there is no problem, since lawyers can join the Bar.
- Many lawyers will do that. Over the past year, about 1,500 documents have been submitted to the Bar, and the applicants have not yet passed the exam. Since January, most likely, there will be a new set of documents and then some of the lawyers of those 8,000 will submit their documents for joining the Bar.
- So the problem will be solved?
- I do not think it will be solved, as it is impossible to forcefully include all lawyers in the Bar. Secondly, admission to the Bar is carried out in two stages - a written examination and an interview, during which it is easy to hinder the applicant with any issue that is not even relevant to the law. They can close the doors to the Board to lawyers, who are known for their participation in political trials, which we observe.
- Then lawyers, who have not joined the Bar, will be left without job?
- They will lose the right to represent citizens in the courts. Yes, they can make legal documents for citizens, work in agencies and companies as lawyers, representing the interests of these structures and advising citizens, but not representing their interests in courts. Lawyers who work in legal entities can represent their organizations in courts. The last aspect is surprising, but it is so.
- An amendment to the law makes it possible to the people"s close relatives to represent their interests in courts. How can this be if a close relative is not a lawyer, or is illiterate in the legal sense?
- The fact that not a lawyer, but only a relative will protect the interests of a citizen is one problem. Another is that the mass of poor single people who do not have enough means to pay for a lawyer will be left without legal assistance. There are also politically active citizens and journalists, whose cases not every lawyer agrees to take. Such citizens were assisted by us - representatives in courts. In sensitive, political cases, very few lawyers specialize, only about 8-10 of the 905 members of the Bar Association. Most likely, such lawyers will be excluded even further, as recently Yalchin Imanov was expelled from the Bar. He was punished in this way after the statement of the Penitentiary Service, which declared Imanov as a person provoking destabilization in the country. Imanov told the press about the use of torture to Abbas Huseynov accused in the Nardaran case.
I think the Bar will continue to exclude lawyers for political reasons, especially since their seats will be taken by other lawyers admitted to the Bar - from those who have not yet been a Bar member.
It is important to note that lawyers, who are not members of the Bar Association, will be able to protect the interests of citizens in the European Court of Human Rights, since this court does not submit to the Azerbaijani law. But before reaching the ECHR, citizens must pass all judicial instances in Azerbaijan. At the internal stages, only members of the Bar will be able to represent the interests of these people from January.
- Several lawyers signed and sent to the Presidential Administration a request to review the bill on the introduction of amendments proposed by the Supreme Court, which would make impossible the effective protection of politically active citizens from January 1. Do you happen to know if their appeal to the government is considered?
- The appeal of lawyers was not considered, as literally after 1-2 days the bill was adopted by the Milli Majlis. I did not sign that appeal. I do not think these changes will be canceled, since they were submitted to the Milli Majlis from the Supreme Court, with the approval of the Presidential Administration. And the fact is that citizens, for sure, will get in a difficult situation, unable to apply to the court in a timely manner to protect their rights.--0--