The plight of harassed lawyers seems to be growing worse.
The disappointing feature of 24-hour news channels is that the extra broadcast time they are afforded is not used to air fresh stories of importance. Instead the viewer is treated to a constant repetition of the main news on a loop. The situation does not improve notably in August.
Praise, then, for Gazette columnist Jonathan Goldsmith who used his 25 August blog to highlight a deterioration in the position of human rights lawyers around the world. As he puts it: ‘Just as the world’s news is becoming so unbearable as to be unwatchable, so the fate of harassed lawyers seems to be growing worse, too.’
He points to the fate of Chinese human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng – in effect broken by his time in prison. Then there is the imprisonment and hospital-based torture of Zinaida Mukhortova, a lawyer from Kazakhstan who challenged political corruption – injected with unknown substances and since harassed through further enforced stays in mental institutions. In Saudi Arabia Waleed Abu al-Khair, a prominent human rights lawyer, has been imprisoned, fined and barred from practice. The full list, Goldsmith notes, is much longer.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the link between the treatment of these lawyers, and the brutality evident in the news that makes the main headlines, is often very close indeed.