With at least 150 signatories from 35 countries across five continents, former world leaders like Presidents Lula and Rafael Corrrea, lawyers, journalists, writers and academics are calling on the use of the judiciary as a weapon of political persecution to be stopped.
MEPs including GUE/NGL co-leaders Manon Aubry and Martin Schirdewan, Younous Omarjee, Anne-Sophie Pelletier, Emmanuel Maurel, Leïla Chaibi, Manuel Bompard, Marisa Matias, Özlem Demirel, Miguel Urbán, Idoia Villenueva Ruiz, Manu Pineda and Sira Rego have also signed.
They are protesting against the widespread and increasing practise of abusing the court system and judiciary as a weapon of political persecution. Notable examples include the proceedings against former president Lula in Brazil, as well as six members of La France Insoumise – including four députés in the French parliament – who will be on trial on 19th and 20th September for ‘irregularities’ in campaign accounting.
The international statement on Lawfare condemns such abuses of the court system on progressive forces around the world. #StopLawfare
Full statement below:
No, justice should not be used as a weapon of political persecution.
Yet, it has now become the case across the world. With the criminalisation of whistleblowers, trade unionists, environmental activists and protesters being arbitrarily arrested, the rights of citizens have already significantly declined. Liberal policing is expensive for democracy. Now a new threshold is being crossed, with the tactics of “Lawfare” : the instrumentalisation of justice to eliminate political competitors.
“Lawfare” begins with unproven denunciations and is fuelled through the media by obsessive denigration campaigns forcing their targets to justify themselves over and over without cause. Then come the prison sentences and the fines. Lawfare confines political debates to the courts of law. Finally, it distorts the electoral process, preventing it from being genuinely free and independent.
Examples are numerous. In South America, former Brazilian Presient Lula was sentenced without evidence and prevented from standing in the presidential election. The acting judge, Sergio Moro, has since become the Minister of Justice for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Then there is Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, both constantly persecuted. In Africa, the Mauritanian Biram Dah Abeid was imprisoned without proof which was then later withdrawn after several months of detention. The lawyer, Massoum Marzouk, opponent of the Sissi regime, was imprisoned on the false pretext of anti-terrorist charges.
In Europe, the French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon was prosecuted without proof and tried for rebellion; Russia’s Sergei Oudalstov, leader of the Left Front, was sentenced to four years in prison for organising protests against the government. In Asia, Cambodia’s opposition leader Kem Sokha was imprisoned for a year, preventing him from participation in the 2018 parliamentary elections. Then there was the judicial crackdown in the Philippines against Senator Leila de Lima, a prominent figure in the opposition to President Duterte.
Many people are speaking out across the world to condemn this situation: groups of lawyers, religious authorities such as Pope Francis, human rights figures, trade union as well as political leaders.
We urge everyone to be on full alert to defend all those who fall victim to such acts, regardless of their political affiliation. We call for global cooperation of legal resistance. We demand that governments and magistrates such as Judge Sergio Moro in Brazil, whose role directly threatened individual and political liberties, be denounced to public opinion.