New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President Scott M. Karson today issued the following statement regarding recent attacks on the rule of law and the role of attorneys as one of its guardians.
“Recent global events remind us, yet again, how fragile and precious the rule of law is.
First, in Myanmar, a military coup seized power from the elected leadership and about to be sworn in members of Parliament. Both Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the country’s state counsellor and a Nobel Prize laureate, and Win Myint, the country’s president, were arrested, criminally charged, and at least initially denied access to counsel. The military leaders have also reportedly targeted for arrest lawyers present during peaceful protests, while further suspending many laws protecting the privacy and security of Myanmar’s citizens, including the Myanmar equivalent of habeas corpus. Just days ago, 38 individuals reportedly were killed as the military crackdown intensified.
We join the United Nations Security Council and the many members of the international community that have condemned this military takeover and the ruling military’s suspension of laws protecting the rights and privileges of Myanmar’s citizens. These actions are incompatible with the rule of law.
Nearer to home, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently charged publicly that Mexican lawyers were engaging in treason by representing corporations who opposed certain government regulatory measures, particularly in the energy sector. The General Council of Mexican Lawyers (CGAM) responded, calling President Obrador’s remarks an ‘attack on the entire profession,’ and that far from treasonous, ‘the free and independent exercise of the legal profession guarantees universal access to justice’ within the nation’s legal framework.
We stand with CGAM. Everyone is entitled to legal representation. And no lawyer should be subject to harassment, threats, or intimidation for providing that representation. CGAM correctly notes that ‘access to justice is a basic component for the rule of law and the legal profession is fundamental to serve this purpose.’”
About the New York Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Susan DeSantis