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Global Civil Society Urges the International Association of Prosecutors to Introduce a Human Rights Policy

06 September 2017

For human rights concerns to be taken seriously, they should be brought beyond the remits of human rights reporting and diplomacy. Human rights should be integrated in international economic and financial relations, but also in cultural and professional contacts.

The NHC has initiated a civil society call to the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP), a profession with serious shortcomings in human rights compliance in many countries, to take up problems in the human rights performance of their members in a more profound way. The appeal has until know met with reluctance, yet it is all but normal that protocols to deal with human rights abuse exist in professions that have a direct impact on human rights. The next global Annual Conference of the IAP will be held in China. This country is an example of how formal legal state machinery is used to repress independent civil society.

Over 130 international and national human rights and anti-corruption groups from all over the world joined the call, generating a global outcry for the introduction of tangible measures to protect human rights through due diligence and compliance procedures by the IAP.

Read the full text of the Petition below or click here to download it. Find out more at:

Oleh Smal for the Netherlands Helsinki Committee. All rights reserved

Petition to the International Association of Prosecutors

The Hague, 5 September

Dear members of the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate,
dear members of the IAP,

In the run-up to the annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) in Beijing, China, the undersigned civil society organisations urge the IAP to live up to its vision and bolster its efforts to preserve the integrity of the profession.

Increasingly, in many regions of the world, in clear breach of professional integrity and fair trial standards, public prosecutors use their powers to suppress critical voices.

In China, over the last two years, dozens of prominent lawyers, labour rights advocates and activists have been targeted by the prosecution service[1] Many remain behind bars, convicted or in prolonged detention for legal and peaceful activities protected by international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Azerbaijan is in the midst of a major crackdown on civil rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, imposing hefty sentences on fabricated charges in trials that make a mockery of justice[2]. In Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey many prosecutors play an active role in the repression of human rights defenders, and in committing, covering up or condoning other grave human rights abuses[3].

Patterns of abusive practices by prosecutors in these and other countries ought to be of grave concern to the professional associations they belong to, such as the IAP. Upholding the rule of law and human rights is a key aspect of the profession of a prosecutor, as is certified by the IAP’s Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, that explicitly refer to the importance of observing and protecting the right to a fair trial and other human rights at all stages of work[4].

Maintaining the credibility of the profession should be a key concern for the IAP. This requires explicit steps by the IAP to introduce a meaningful human rights policy. Such steps will help to counter devaluation of ethical standards in the profession, revamp public trust in justice professionals and protect the organisation and its members from damaging reputational impact and allegations of whitewashing or complicity in human rights abuses.

For the second year in a row, civil society appeals to the IAP to honour its human rights responsibilities by introducing a tangible human rights policy. In particular:

We urge the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate to:

  • introduce human rights due diligence and compliance procedures for new and current members, including scope for complaint mechanisms with respect to institutional and individual members, making information public about its institutional members and creating openings for stakeholder engagement from the side of civil society and victims of human rights abuses[5].

We call on individual members of the IAP to:

  • raise the problem of a lack of human rights compliance mechanisms at the IAP and thoroughly discuss the human rights implications before making decisions about hosting IAP meetings;

  • identify relevant human rights concerns before travelling to IAP conferences and meetings and raise these issues with their counterparts from countries where politically-motivated prosecution and human rights abuses by prosecution authorities are reported by intergovernmental organisations and internationally renowned human rights groups.

Supporting organisations

Amnesty International
Africa Network for Environment and Economic JusticeBenin
Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern AfricaKwekwe
Article 19, London
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asia Justice and RightsJakarta
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Chiang Mai
Asian Human Rights CommissionHong Kong SAR
Asia Monitor Resource CentreHong Kong SAR
Association for Legal Intervention, Warsaw
Association, Bern
Association Malienne des Droits de l’Homme, Bamako
Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, Kyiv
Associazione AntigoneRome
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, Vilnuis
Belarusian Helsinki CommitteeMinsk
Bir-Duino KyrgyzstanBishkek
Bulgarian Helsinki CommitteeSofia
Canadian Human Rights International OrganisationToronto
Center for Civil LibertiesKyiv
Centre for Development and Democratization of InstitutionsTirana
Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human RightsMoscow
China Human Rights Lawyers Concern GroupHong Kong SAR
Civil Rights DefendersStockholm
Civil Society InstituteYerevan
Citizen WatchSt. Petersburg
Collective Human Rights Defenders “Laura Acosta” International Organization COHURIDELAToronto
Comunidad de Derechos Humanos, La Paz
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos HumanosLima
Destination JusticePhnom Penh
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders ProjectKampala
Equality MyanmarYangon
Faculty of Law – University of Indonesia, Depok
Fair TrialsLondon
Federation of Equal Journalists, Almaty
Former Vietnamese Prisoners of ConscienceHanoi
Free Press UnlimitedAmsterdam
Front Line DefendersDublin
Foundation ADRA PolandWroclaw
German-Russian ExchangeBerlin
Gram Bharati SamitiJaipur
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly VanadzorYerevan
Helsinki Association of ArmeniaYerevan
Helsinki Foundation for Human RightsWarsaw
Human Rights Center AzerbaijanBaku
Human Rights Center Georgia, Tbilisi
Human Rights ClubBaku
Human Rights Embassy, Chisinau
Human Rights House FoundationOslo
Human Rights Information CenterKyiv
Human Rights MatterBerlin
Human Rights Monitoring InstituteVilnius
Human Rights NowTokyo
Human Rights Without Frontiers InternationalBrussels
Hungarian Civil Liberties UnionBudapest
IDP Women Association “Consent”Tbilisi
IMPARSIAL, the Indonesian Human Rights MonitorJakarta
Index on CensorshipLondon
Indonesian Legal Roundtable, Jakarta
Institute for Criminal Justice ReformJakarta
Institute for Democracy and MediationTirana
Institute for Development of Freedom of InformationTbilisi
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Partnership for Human RightsBrussels
International Service for Human RightsGeneva
International Youth Human Rights Movement
Jerusalem Institute of JusticeJerusalem,
Jordan Transparency Center, Amman
Justiça GlobalRio de Janeiro
Justice and Peace NetherlandsThe Hague
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of LawAlmaty
Kharkiv Regional Foundation Public Alternative, Kharkiv
Kosovo Center for Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption – KUND 16, Prishtina
Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, Prishtina
Lawyers for LawyersAmsterdam
Lawyers for LibertyKuala Lumpur
League of Human RightsBrno
Macedonian Helsinki CommitteeSkopje
Masyarakat Pemantau Peradilan Indonesia (Mappi FH-UI), Depok
Moscow Helsinki Group, Moscow
National Coalition of Human Rights DefendersKampala
Netherlands Helsinki CommitteeThe Hague
Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Utrecht UniversityUtrecht
NGO “Aru ana“, Aktobe
Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Oslo
Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO), Bahawalpur
Pensamiento y Acción Social (PAS), Bogotá
Pen InternationalLondon
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), Seoul
Philippine Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)Manila
Promo-LEX AssociationChisinau
Protection InternationalBrussels
Protection Desk Colombia, alianza (OPI-PAS), Bogotá
Protection of Rights Without BordersYerevan
Public Association DignityAstana
Public Association “Our Right”, Kokshetau
Public Fund “Ar.Ruh.Hak”Almaty
Public Fund “Ulagatty Zhanaya”, Almaty
Public Verdict Foundation, Moscow
Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Baku/ Tbilisi
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Lagos
Stefan Batory FoundationWarsaw
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Petaling Jaya
Swiss Helsinki Association, Lenzburg
Transparency Anti-corruption Center International , Yerevan
Transparency International Austrian chapterVienna
Transparency International Republika ČeskáPrague
Transparency International Deutschland, Berlin
Transparency International EU OfficeBrussels
Transparency International FranceParis
Transparency International GreeceAthens
Transparency International GreenlandNuuk
Transparency International HungaryBudapest
Transparency International IrelandDublin
Transparency International ItaliaMilan
Transparency International MoldovaChisinau
Transparency International NederlandAmsterdam
Transparency International NorwayOslo
Transparency International PortugalLisbon
Transparency International RomaniaBucharest
Transparency International SecretariatBerlin
Transparency International SloveniaLjubljana
Transparency International EspañaMadrid
Transparency International SwedenStockholm
Transparency International SwitzerlandBern
Transparency International UKLondon
UNITED for Intercultural Action the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities, Budapest
United Nations Convention against Corruption Civil Society Coalition
Villa Decius AssociationKrakow
Vietnam’s Defend the DefendersHanoi
Vietnamese Women for Human RightsSaigon
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human RightsHarare


[1] As documented by a number of internationally renowned human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and the ICJ. See, for example, the HRW World Report 2017, China and Tibet, available at:; China: call for action at UN on lawyers and other human rights defenders, available at:
[2]  The Functioning of the Judicial System in Azerbaijan and its Impact on the Fair Trial of Human Rights Defenders, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Netherlands Helsinki Committee 2016, available at:
[3] See, for example: Human Rights and the Professional Responsibility of Judges and Prosecutors in the Work of CCJE and CCPE. Observations to the CCJE-CCPE Joint Report on “Challenges for Judicial Independence and Impartiality in the Member States of the Council of Europe”, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights 2017, available at:
[4] Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors adopted by the International Association of Prosecutors on 23 April 1999.
[5] See, for example, Options for Promoting Human Rights Compliance by the International Association of Prosecutors, policy brief, October 2016.