Advocates for Silenced Voices: How Human Rights Lawyers in Europe Defend the Rule of Law

This paper proposal explores the shrinking space for civil society and its defenders in Europe. Drawing from various case studies, it sheds light on the widespread judicial harassment of lawyers representing anti-government voices. The liberal order being undermined by populist politicians in many parts of the world, there is strong evidence that governments abuse their powers and use the judiciary to stigmatize and criminalize activists for their work. As a consequence, it became increasingly difficult for lawyers to exercise their profession. Azerbaijan and Russia, for instance, have a long history of politically motivated convictions against civil society activists and being reminded by the international community to comply with human rights standards. Against this backdrop, this paper looks at the relationship between lawyers, courts and politics. It concludes with a critical assessment of the current international human rights system to tackle judicial wrongdoing more effectively.