Lawyers, their colleagues and clients around the globe today will recognise and commemorate 24 January as international ‘Day of the Endangered Lawyer’ – an initiative launched by European Democratic Lawyers to raise awareness of the human rights challenges faced by practicing legal professionals around the world. The day also stands in recognition of the indispensable role that lawyers play in protecting and ensuring the rights of citizens in the countries where they live and practice. The date 24 January was chosen to commemorate the 1977 murders of four lawyers and their co-worker in Madrid, in what is now referred to as the Massacre of Atocha.
Each year, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer initiative focusses its attentions on the challenges and injustices being faced by the legal community in one country. Honduras was in the spotlight in 2016, while the focus this year will turn to China. ‘Each year a disturbingly high number of lawyers are threatened, beaten, incarcerated or murdered because they represent unpopular clients or speak out against human rights abuses. Their brave and courageous actions are something for all lawyers to salute,’ said New Zealand Law Society president Kathryn Beck in support of the initiative.