On April 16, deputies of the House of Representatives adopted in the first reading the bill “On Amendments to the Laws on the Bar.” Now it will be possible for law enforcement officers to become lawyers without exams, and private lawyers and law firms will work only within the framework of state legal advice. 

These innovations will eliminate private advocacy. All the bureaus and individual lawyers who want to keep their profession will have to move to legal advice.

How does that affect the attorneys?

The lawyer will be less free in his actions, statements, choice of methods of defense. All candidates for lawyers will be checked by the Ministry of Justice for “reliability”. 

Former law enforcement officers will be able to become lawyers only based on the recommendations of the former bosses and an interview. 

How does that affect the clients?

Belarusians will be less protected and less informed about their rights. Many will have to get lower-quality legal aid.

The new bill is another way of putting pressure on independent lawyers. We are talking about full control of the legal profession, which contradicts the rule enshrined in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. 

International lawyers’ communities are in solidarity with their Belarusian colleagues and sent appeals to the Belarusian authorities demanding to comply with international obligations and stop pressure on defenders. The colleagues were supported by the Federal Chamber of Lawyers of Germany, the Dutch bar association Lawyers for Lawyers, and the Institute for Human Rights of the International Bar Association (IBAHRI).

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