Support legal counsels that represent and defend human rights defenders

Article 10 in the UN Human Rights declaration states that:

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Vígdís Freedom believes that a necessary condition for achieving a “fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal” is the right to be represented by legal counsel. The right to legal counsel means that a human rights defender during trial has the right to be represented and assisted by a legal professional – even though the right to legal counsel is not explicitly included in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Vígdís Freedom supports legal counsels that represent and defend human rights defenders when they are accused and face legal proceedings, detention, arrest and charges because of their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs, ethnic origin, sex, colour,
language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other status, provided that the human rights defender has neither used nor advocated violence.

 

Vígdís Freedom believes that respect for the rule of law is a fundamental principle for securing universal human rights.

 

Vigdis Freedom believes that a legal counsel has the right to not be identified with his or her client.

 

Vígdís Freedom wants to reduce the personal risks that a legal counsel may face in taking on what may be a contentious legal case which may also challenge existing political power structures.

Based on the principles set out above, Vígdís Freedom aims to build a network of legalcounsels across borders for the support of legal counsels who defends and represents human right defenders.

The basis for our work

The work of Vigdis Freedom is based on four main foundation: Freedom of speech, Professional legal advice as a requirement for a fair trial, Rule of law and Equal rights.

Article 19 in the UN Human Rights declaration states that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Professional legal advice as a requirement for a fair trial

Article 10 in the UN Human Rights declaration states that:

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Vígdís Freedom believes that a necessary condition for achieving a “fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal” is the right to be represented by legal counsel. The right to legal counsel means that a human rights defender during trial has the right to be
represented and assisted by a legal professional – even though the right to legal counsel is not explicitly included in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Rule of law

Vígdís Freedom adheres to the United Nations Secretary-General description of the rule of law which is: “a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally
enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.”

Equal legal rights

Vígdís Freedom always endeavours to promote equal legal rights.

ONGOING CASES

 

The Vigdis Freedom Foundation has been working with Turkish human rights lawyer Eren Keskin, who has been a target of the Turkish government’s efforts to silence any social or political opposition. Eren has dedicated her life to fighting for the right to freedom of expression in Turkey, as well as dedicating herself as an ally for women survivors of sexual abuse. Eren has been a force for peace and justice in Turkey, which was officially acknowledged in 2004 when she was awarded the Aachen Peace Prize for “her courageous efforts and activities for human rights.”