IBAHRI concerned over Kyrgyzstan lawyer Taalaigul Toktakunova punishment for discharging legal duties

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) is gravely concerned by the case brought against Kyrgyz lawyer Taalaigul Toktakunova, by the General Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz Republic, that appear to align her with charges laid against one of her clients. The charges revolve around perceived attacks on the honour of former President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Almazbek Sharshenovich. Consequently, Ms Toktakunova has been made to pay compensation, and has had her property and assets confiscated.

IBAHRI Co-Chair Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell commented: ‘The IBAHRI calls on the government of Kyrgyzstan to take all possible measures to ensure that lawyers can carry out their legitimate professional activities without fear of intimidation, harassment or interference, in accordance with international human rights standards. For the rule of law to prosper, it is essential that individuals in Kyrgyzstan, regardless of their political affiliations, be given equal access to legal representation, and that lawyers are not associated with their clients. Lawyers should be free to defend any individual before a court of law.’

In March 2017, the General Prosecutor of Kyrgyzstan made a claim against Ms Toktakunova and her colleague Kanatbek Aziz, among others, based around alleged attacks on the reputation of then President Sharshenovich. The claim came after Ms Toktakunova, a lawyer for the political party Ata Meken, held a press conference regarding the arrest of her client, opposition party leader Omurbek Tekebayev. During the press conference, Ms Toktakunova and her colleague stated that the criminal case against Mr Tekebayev was unlawfully initiated, and that he was arrested due to confidential information he had obtained in relation to illegal activity in which President Sharshenovich had allegedly engaged.  

On 30 November 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the claim requiring both lawyers to pay 10 million soms (USD$146,888) in moral compensation and hold a press conference refuting their statements.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, added: ‘The IBAHRI is concerned that the ruling against Ms Toktakunova is likely to be in violation of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers that require states to ensure lawyers are able to perform their duties “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference”. We remind the Kyrgyzstan government and Supreme Court of their international obligation.’

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

  1. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
     

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