Lawyer Hanna Bakhtsina loses appeal in disbarment case
The Maskoŭski District Court of Minsk has turned down an appeal filed by defense lawyer Hanna Bakhtsina to challenge the Justice Ministry’s decision, which revoked the counsel’s license due to “lack of professional skills.”
The Ministry’s decision was based on the findings by a qualification commission, which, according to Bakhtsina, were not “substantiated by legitimate grounds and public motivation.”
Human rights defender Enira Branitskaya, who attended a court session on October 30, said that the lawyer was accused of two minor paperwork errors.
“These mistakes, together with Bakhtsina’s failure to answer a question during the interview, enabled the Justice Ministry to revoke her license and argue that she was incapable of professionally performing her work,” the activist said.
During one of the hearings, it was announced that on October 19, without waiting for the court’s decision, the Council of the Minsk City Bar ruled to disbar Hanna Bakhtsina. The decision came into force on October 26.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" certainly considers these actions as an undisguised pressure on the lawyers, as well as a violation of the right to legal protection of defendants in the ‘White Legion case’.
“In such circumstances, we see nearly no possibility of arranging a trial in accordance with fair trial standards, one of which is the ability to obtain a professional legal counsel, independent of any influence whatsoever, human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich said in a comment.
On September 13, the country’s leading human rights organizations issued a joint statement calling on the Belarusian authorities to end harrasment of lawyers involved in politically motivated cases. They also asked to cancel the Justice Ministry’s decision against Hanna Bakhtsina, which prevents her from performing her professional activities.