Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize
"The International tribute from Lawyers to a Lawyer"
On September 22, 2023, at the Rome courthouse, the 26 European lawyers members of the Jury of the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize awarded the third round of voting with an absolute majority of 14 votes to
a defense attorney of the Bar of Grodno. sentenced to six years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony. for representing many political cases brought after the 2020 elections
Yuliya Yurhilevich, 43, is a lawyer with 18 years of experience at the Kastrychnytsky district legal consultancy firm of Grodno. She was a defense attorney in many political cases brought after the 2020 elections. She is well-known for representing political prisoners such as the artist Alies Pushkin (who died in prison on July 11th, 2023), the rock musician Igar Bantsar, the blogger Vadimati and other detainees in political cases such as Artem Boyarsky and Andrei Sokolovsky. She defended in court Olga Verameenka from the store "Ametnasts", who was forcibly detained on June 3, 2021 after a search of the police in the store "Admetnasts" in Grodno, or Andrei Sokolovskyi in the same case.
On 23 February 2022, the regional bar association of Grodno disbarred Yuliya Yurhilevich for systematic violation of the law. According to defenders.by, the disbarment was triggered by a complaint from the Grodno region deputy prosecutor questioning her professionalism.
Subsequently, she was accused of publicizing her disbarment and providing Pavel Mazheika, an independent journalist and leader of a local independent group City life center with information on political prisoners in Belarus, notably on dissident artist Ales Pushkin, who was recognized as a political prisoner by a number of leading human rights groups, and who died in a Belarusian prison of an unknown cause in July 2023. (Notification about Yuliya Yurhilevich s disbarment and license termination is currently available on the website of Justice Ministry. The details of Ales Pushkin s politically motivated trial and sentencing can also be easily found on the state media website.)
After her license was revoked, she left Belarus in February for a stay in Poland.She left Belarus for Poland but upon her return to Belarus she was arrested on 30th August 2022. Authorities raided her apartment. On the same day they detained also Pavel Mazheika, for transmitting information in February-March 2022, to the Belsat TV channel a Belarusian news outlet based in Poland which was declared to be an extremist organisation on 3 November 2021). Authorities claim that by prior conspiracy sharing this publicly available information, Mazheika and Yurhilevich collaborated in extremist activity and invalidated the values and goals of [Belarusian] society and the state by knowingly spreading false information.
On July 10, 2023, the Grodno Regional Court started the trial of Yuliya Yurhilevich and Pavel Mazheika. They were accused under Part 2 of Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code ('Other facilitation of extremist activities, committed repeatedly by a group of persons based on a previous conspiracy'). Both the political prisoners pleaded not guilty. Yuliya Yurhilevich claimed that she was kept in inhuman conditions and was not allowed to read her case file.
During the first court hearing, both Yurhilevich and Mazheika (previously sentenced, in 2002, to two years in prison for "defamation of the president , before becoming press secretary for presidential candidate Alexandre Milink vitch, in 2006) turned their backs to the courtroom in protest against this mockery of justice. Yuliya Yurhilevich was wearing her prison robe with a label punishment cell N2 on the back, indicating she was being isolated during her pre-trial detention. During the following night, Ales Pushkin died in his prison at the age of 57.
Yurgilevich s trial was marked by numerous irregularities. She was not allowed to prepare her own defence against the charges she was facing before the trial, in violation of her right to a fair trial under international human rights law, including Article 14 of the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by which Belarus is bound as a State party.
On July 26, 2023, Yuliya Yurhilevich was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony. Pavel Mazheika to six years in a medium-security penal colony.
According to Belarusian Association of Human Rights Lawyers, the case against Yurhilevich and Mazheika was orchestrated exclusively to intimidate lawyers and prevent them from any publicity in their professional activities.
Created in 1984, the "International Human Rights Prize Ludovic -Trarieux” is awarded to " a lawyer, regardless of nationality or Bar, who thoroughout his career has illustrated, by his activity or his suffering, the defence of human rights, the promotion of defence rights, the supremacy of law, and the struggle against racism and intolerance in any form ".
It is the oldest and most prestigious award given to a lawyer in the world, commemorating the memory of the French lawyer, Ludovic Trarieux (1840-1904), who in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair, in France, in 1898, founded the " League for the Defence of Human Rights and the Citizen ", because, he said: " It was not only the single cause of a man which was to be defended, but behind this cause, law, justice, humanity ".
The first Prize was awarded on March 29th, 1985 to Nelson Mandela then in jail. It was officially presented to his daughter, Zenani Mandela Dlamini, on April 27th 1985, in front of forty presidents of Bars and Law Societies from Europe and Africa. It was the first award given to Mandela in France and the first around the world given by lawyers. On February 11th 1990, Nelson Mandela was released. Since then, it was decided that the Prize would be awarded again.
Since 2003, the Prize is awarded every year in partnership by the Human Rights Institute of The Bar of Bordeaux, the Human Rights Institute of the Bar of Paris, the Human Rights Institute of The Bar of Brussels, l'Unione forense per la tutela dei diritti dell'uomo (Roma), Rechtsanwaltskammer Berlin, the Bar of Luxemburg, the Bar of Geneva, the Bar of Amsterdam as well as the International Union of Lawyers (UIA), the European Bars Federation (FBE) and the Institute of Human Rights of European Lawyers (IDHAE).
PRIZEWINNERS SINCE 19841985 Nelson MANDELA (South Africa)
1992 Augusto ZÚÑIGA PAZ (Peru) †
1994 Jadranka CIGELJ (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
1996 Nejib HOSNI (Tunisia) and Dalila MEZIANE (Algeria).
1998 ZHOU Guoqiang (China) 2000 Esber YAGMURDERELI (Turkey)
2002 Mehrangiz KAR (Iran)
2003 Digna OCHOA and Bárbara ZAMORA (Mexico) 2004 Akhtam NAISSE (Syria)
2005 Henri BURIN DES ROZIERS (Brazil)
2006 Parvez IMROZ (India)
2007 René GÓMEZ MANZANO (Cuba)
2008 U AYE MYINT (Burma)
2009 Beatrice MTETWA (Zimbabwe)
2010 Karinna MOSKALENKO (Russia) 2011 Fethi TERBIL (Libya)
2012 Muharrem ERBEY (Turkey)
2013 Vadim KURAMSHIN (Kazakhstan)
2014 Mahienour el-MASSRY (Egypt)
2015 Waleed Abu al-KHAIR (Saudi Arabia)
2016 WANG Yu (China)
2017 Mohamed al-ROKEN (United Arab Emirates)
2018 Nasrin SOTOUDEH (Iran)
2019 Rommel DURAN CASTELLANOS (Colombia)
2020 Ebru et Barkin TIMTIK (Turkey)
2021 Freshta KARIMI (Afghanistan)
2022 Arminsalar DAVOUDI (Iran)
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