On March 14, the world’s major international organizations representing the legal profession jointly sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in support of the lawyers of Syria, reportedly being harassed, imprisoned and abused for participating in peaceful dissent or representing Syrian citizens involved in protests.
Signed by fourteen international legal professional organizations, the letter expresses the strong support of the international legal community for those Syrian lawyers being prevented by the Syrian authorities from carrying out their professional responsibilities in an independent and impartial manner. The fourteen organizations strongly condemn the actions of the Syrian government, and call upon the Syrian authorities to meet their obligations embodied in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Speaking on behalf of the authors of the letter, William D. Meyer, chair of the International Legal Assistance Consortium, said, “The overwhelming evidence gathered by international organizations demonstrates that Syrian authorities are not adequately safeguarding the security of lawyers, as required by the UN Principles.” He added, “The international legal community has resolved to speak with one voice in support of Syrian lawyers attempting to work in unimaginably arrant conditions. It is important that they know that their work is recognized and applauded by their colleagues outside of Syria.”
The letter is intended to send a powerful twofold message that there is cohesive international support for those peacefully working for reform, and that Syrian legal professionals who are silent, or supporting regime policies, are on the wrong side of history.