THE ADVOCATE 79
VOL. 80 PART 1 JANUARY 2022
By Heather Neun* and Catherine Morris†
THE DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER, JANUARY 24, 2022: COLOMBIA
In 2021, threats to lawyers and other human rights defenders around the
world did not abate. The independence, integrity and safety of the legal profession
are crucial to the rule of law. When unchecked, threats and attacks
on lawyers create a climate of intimidation for those taking on cases that are
controversial or politically sensitive. Lack of legal representation thwarts
equal access to justice and fair trials and undermines the rule of law.
In 2021, LRWC intervened in situations in more than two dozen countries
where lawyers, particularly human rights lawyers, are at risk of attacks of
various kinds, including politically motivated vilification, suspensions, disbarments,
charges, arrests, arbitrary detention, death threats or assassinations.
Since LRWC’s last report in the Advocate in November 2021, LRWC
volunteers have addressed concerns in 19 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria,
Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Iran,
Myanmar, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Philippines, South
Sudan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
Alarming Escalation of Threats to Colombian Lawyers and Human Rights
Colombia is the focus of attention for the upcoming international Day of the
Endangered Lawyer on January 24, 2022. Events are planned all over the
world, including an online event for Canadian lawyers co-sponsored by the
Law Society of Ontario’s Human Rights Committee and LRWC.1
* Heather Neun has been a volunteer for LRWC since 2004 and serves on its board of directors and as its Colombia monitor.
She recently participated in an international human rights monitoring mission to Colombia that examined human rights violations
and impunity in the context of the National Strike protests of 2021. See the mission’s report (Spanish only), infra note 11.
† Catherine Morris has been a volunteer with LRWC for more than two decades and serves as its Main Representative at the
UN Human Rights Council. LRWC has held special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council since 2005.
She was appointed to serve as transitional Executive Director of LRWC on a pro bono basis from June 2020 to January 2022.