The National Lawyers Guild has been heartened to learn of the decision to grant our colleague and former president, Peter Erlinder, his “unconditional release” on medical grounds. He could be returning home as early as tomorrow to be reunited with his family.
Under the circumstances, the rally originally scheduled for Friday, June 18 outside the United Nations has been canceled.
Nevertheless, we take this opportunity to renew our call for all charges against Peter Erlinder to be dismissed. The NLG has been joined by worldwide condemnation of Peter’s arrest and prosecution coming from such organizations as the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, ADAD (the Rwanda tribunal’s defense lawyers association), the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Society of American Law Teachers, Lawyers Human Rights Watch of Canada and, belatedly, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
This outpouring of support for the rights of clients to effective and vigorous representation from their lawyers led to the Rwandan court’s decision. Still, until the charges are dismissed, all the lawyers representing defendants before the ICTR will be constricted and limited, for fear of heavy-handed retaliation from the Kagame regime in Rwanda.
“Peter’s release and, we trust, his return home are victories we will savor, but they will remain incomplete until all charges are dismissed and the Rwandan government provides assurances its unlawful conduct will not be repeated, either against Peter or any other ICTR defense counsel,” said David Gespass, NLG president.
Founded in 1937, the NLG is the oldest and largest human rights bar organization in the country and, as the world shrinks and becomes increasingly interrelated, is engaging human right world wide as a member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.