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The DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Protests the Detention of Attorney Peter Erlinder by Rwanda
Tuesday, June 8, 2010 5 - 6:30 PM
Please join the DC National Lawyers Guild in front of the Rwandan Embassy this evening to call for the release of attorney Peter Erlinder.
Protest to Free Peter Erlinder
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
5 - 6:30 PM
In front of the Embassy of Rwanda
1714 New Hampshire Ave, NW
American law professor and former president of the National Lawyers Guild Peter Erlinder was recently arrested by Rwandan authorities and charged with "genocide negationism", a speech crime that could carry a sentence of 25 years in prison. He traveled to Rwanda on May 23 to aid in the defense of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a leading opposition figure and presidential candidate. The DC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (DC-NLG) strongly condemns this politically motivated prosecution of an attorney for vigorously defending his client and will protest outside the Rwandan Embassy (1714 New Hampshire Avenue NW) today at 5:30 pm.
President of the DC-NLG, Turna Lewis said, "Professor Erlinder traveled to Rwanda to provide representation in a legal proceeding. The rule of law requires that defendants be permitted to obtain legal counsel that will advocate for their interests. Any country that prosecutes attorneys for defending their clients cannot claim to respect democracy or human rights."
The crime that Professor Erlinder has been accused of, "genocide ideology," requires no proof of participation in genocidal acts and criminalizes speech protected by international humans rights law as codified in the Genocide Convention of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966. According to Human Rights Watch, the Rwandan government regularly uses prosecutions or threats of prosecution under this law to stifle legitimate dissent.
Yesterday, Professor Erlinder was denied bail and was transferred from the jail where he had been held to the general prison in Kigali. He could be held for another month until his appeal is heard.
Professor Erlinder is a professor of law at the William Mitchell College of Law. He is a frequent litigator and consultant, often pro bono, in cases involving the death penalty, civil rights, claims of government and police misconduct, and criminal defense of political activists. Erlinder was president of the National Lawyers Guild from 1993-1997. He has been a defense attorney at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 2003.
The DC-NLG will protest today outside the Rwandan Embassy to demand the Rwandan government immediately release Professor ErlinderRemain abreast of latest updates via Free Professor Erlinder Now on Facebook.