The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the detention of lawyer Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki in Sudan

Toronto, ON — The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the detention of lawyer Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki in Sudan.

Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki is a human rights lawyer known for providing legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses, youth and students in El Fasher in particular.

It has come to the Law Society’s attention that on December 27, 2016, the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (“NISS”) arrested Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki at her office in El Fasher, Darfur. Following her arrest, she was quickly relocated to Khartoum and deprived of all contact with her family. Authorities did not notify the Bar Association about her arrest as stipulated in the Sudanese Advocates Law. Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki continues to be held without charge and/or disclosure of the reasons for her detention, and with limited contact with her family.

The Law Society is deeply concerned about Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki’s situation and urges the Government of Sudan to comply with Sudan’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Article 16 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

Article 17 states:

Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

Article 18 states:

Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.

The Law Society urges the Government of Sudan to:

  1. immediately and unconditionally release Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki; 
  2. immediately and unconditionally withdraw any and all charges against Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki; 
  3. guarantee all of the procedural rights that should be accorded to Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki in accordance with her right to a fair trial; 
  4. ensure that Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki is afforded regular access to her lawyer and family; 
  5. put an end to all acts of harassment against Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki and all other human rights lawyers in Sudan; 
  6. guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Tasneem Ahmed Taha El Zaki and all other human rights lawyers in Sudan; 
  7. ensure that all lawyers in Sudan can carry out their professional duties and activities without fear of reprisals, physical violence or other human rights violations; and
  8. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments. 

*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 50,000 lawyers and 8,000 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Treasurer is the head of the Law Society. The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

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For more information, please contact Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor – Media Relations, at 416-947-7605 or stonkin@lsuc.on.ca.

The Law Society of Upper Canada 
Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West 
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N6
www.lsuc.on.ca 

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