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We need to talk about the Rule of Law Profile

We need to talk about the Rule of Law

English, National/National politics/National assembly, 2 seasons, 20 episodes, 14 hours, 51 minutes
Independent courts, judges who will withstand political pressure and rule against the will of the government if the law demands it. It’s called the rule of law, and as long as you have it, you rarely notice it. If you don’t have it, you’ll know what you miss – but then it’s too late. We need to talk about the rule of law because in a growing number of EU member states, the rule of law is already severely damaged - and we will all feel the consequences. We need to talk about the rule of law as Europeans, among Europeans. This is what we, Verfassungsblog and Deutscher Anwaltsverein, want to do with this podcast. Twelve weeks, twelve episodes: Every week we invite a number of high-profile political and legal actors and experts to discuss the most urgent aspects of this topic. If you want to be part of this debate, please feel warmly encouraged, do send us your question, use the hashtag #lawrules or send us a speech memo on our Instagram account (@verfassungsblog).
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#DefendingTheDefenders – Episode 7: UN Special Rapporteur Margaret Satterthwaite

On the 24th of January, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, we conclude our podcast with a conversation with Margaret Satterthwaite. She is a professor of Clinical Law at New York University and was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in October 2022. In this season, we have been looking at the challenges and dangers lawyers and human rights defenders face in their work in many different countries. We have been talking about Poland, Belarus, Turkey, Afghanistan, Colombia and the European Union. From harassments over identifications of lawyers with their clients to media pressure, SLAPP suits, imprisonments and violent attacks, we have talked about a range of threats lawyers face particularly in countries where the rule of law is fragile or where there is democratic backsliding, but not only there. In this conversation, Margaret Sattertwhaite offers a global perspective on the topic of our podcast, the defence of the defenders. We talk about global trends in challenges to the independence of lawyers, and we talk about structural problems that need to be addressed to defend the defenders around the globe.  Margaret's statement on the situation in Afghanistan can be found here:
1/24/202324 minutes, 59 seconds
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#DefendingTheDefenders – Episode 6: The European Union

In the sixth episode of our rule of law podcast #DefendingTheDefenders with Deutscher Anwaltverein, we talk about the European Union and the state of the professional freedom of attorneys there. Within the jurisdiction of the European Union, there are a number of issues attorneys and their associations are worried about. The right to defence and legal services as well as the attorney-client-relationship is being targeted in an unjustified manner in areas such as the fight against money laundering or terrorism as well as in sanctions packages against Russian corporations in the wake of Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine, they say. EU institutions feel differently, however. They see the instruments under criticism as a proportionate way to address the professional freedom of lawyers as well as the right to defence on the one side and general interests on the other side. We talk to both sides to learn more about the concerns and the regulators' reasons. Our guests in this episode are James MacGuill, the president of the Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE) in 2022, and Florian Geyer, Head of Unit in the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers at the European Commission. 01:55: Interview with James MacGuill 24:50: Interview with Florian Geyer
1/20/202355 minutes, 55 seconds
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#DefendingTheDefenders – Episode 5: Colombia

The fifth episode of #DefendingTheDefenders, the rule of law podcast by Deutscher Anwaltverein and Verfassungsblog, focuses on Colombia, where the situation for attorneys and human rights defenders is particularly dangerous. In recent years, hundreds of attorneys and human rights defenders have been killed, death threats against them are being made on a regular basis, and they have been under pressure by the government as well. The danger they face in their work is deeply connected to the issues they fight for and the clients they represent. In this episode, we talk to CLAUDIA MÜLLER-HOFF, a human rights defender that has worked in Germany for the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and in Colombia for the Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo about the way attorneys and human rights defenders work in these conditions and what needs to be done to protect them.  CLAUDIA MÜLLER-HOFF is a German lawyer with 20 years of experience in internationally active human rights organizations in Europe and Colombia/Latin America. She has worked on the protection of human rights defenders, on business, climate and human rights, and on theater education and political theatre. She currently lives and works in Colombia.
1/6/202330 minutes, 50 seconds
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#DefendingTheDefenders – Episode 4: Turkey

In the fourth episode of #DefendingTheDefenders we talk about the situation of lawyers in Turkey with Veysel Ok. He is an attorney in Istanbul and the Co-Director of the Media and Law Studies Association, a non-profit which monitors and defends freedom of expression cases against journalists. Veysel has defended high-profile cases such as those against the journalist Deniz Yücel and the novelist Ahmet Altan. Following his work as an attorney in these cases, he has been subject to harassment and prosecution himself. In this episode we will discuss how the Turkish government tries to get rid of independent lawyers altogether – and the brave struggle by attorneys in Turkey who fight for those that are being prosecuted for political reasons even though the consequences may be grave. We will also talk about what the European Union and its member states need to do in their relations with Turkey to support the fight for the rule of law and democracy. 
12/30/202227 minutes, 28 seconds
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#DefendingTheDefenders – Episode 3: Afghanistan

When the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, it was a disaster for women. Immediately, they were stripped of their rights, in particular their political rights. In the third episode of #DefendingTheDefenders, a podcast by Deutscher Anwaltverein and Verfassungsblog, we talk to Shabnam Salehi about the human rights situation in Afghanistan and the rights of women in particular.  Shabnam describes the years leading up to the Taliban coup as a golden era of women’s rights. At the initiative of human rights activists, the government had taken many steps to promote and protect women and their rights. Even more importantly, women have been educated about their rights. While there were many challenges for human rights activists during these years, Shabnam says, a lot of progress has been made. After the Taliban gripped power, they immediately began to push back on women’s rights, but Shabnam explains what the perspectives of human rights activism in and for Afghanistan are and why she remains hopeful.  In the second segment of this episode, we talk to Matthias Lehnert about the shortcomings of the German and European migration law system. The Afghanistan example shows a slow system designed to prioritise perceived security issues over human rights in some cases, Matthias says. Current regulatory proposals also reveal that the work of attorneys is perceived as a threat to this priority rather than an execution of the right to access to justice. Guests: Shabnam Salehi is a scholar and a prominent women’s rights activist from Afghanistan. She has been an Assistant Professor at Kabul University and a Commissioner and Head of the Women's Rights Promotion and Protection Unit in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Currently, she is a Visiting Researcher at the University of Ottawa. Matthias Lehnert is an attorney-at-law in Berlin. Host:  Lennart Kokott is a Research Assistant at the Chair for Public Law and Comparative Law at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg.  
12/9/202251 minutes, 29 seconds
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#DefendingTheDefenders - Episode 2: Belarus

In the second episode of Defending the Defenders, we talk to Dmitri Laevski about the rule of law and human rights in Belarus. Dmitri is a criminal attorney turned human rights lawyer in the wake of the 2020 presidential elections. He takes us through the recent history of the rule of law in Belarus, from realising that the concept he learned about in university didn't really exist in practice to the organisation of the legal professions in the last decade to the rule of law crackdown in 2020 and ever since. Having himself lost his licence to practice law after defending dissidents, Dmitri offers insights into how it is like to be an attorney in a country where arbitrary detentions and prosecutions have become the norm while less and less attorneys are practicing law because of disbarments or because they are not willing to work under these conditions, leaving Belarus today with well under 1.800 lawyers for a population of 9.5 million people. While there may be not much hope for a return to the rule of law unless there is political change, Dmitri says, there is a number of things that can be done to support those fighting for human rights in Belarus: Bar associations and agencies should not recognise the Belarusian Bar Association as a proper counterpart. Lawyers who have been deprived of their licences in Belarus due to political reasons should be recognised as human rights lawyers internationally, especially in Europe. They could also be supported by being given the ability to work remotely with colleagues in Europe. Finally, it is important to include these lawyers in the European legal community and communicate with them, Dmitri says. Further information on the crisis of the right to defense can be found in a report by the Center for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (available in english soon).
11/25/202259 minutes, 13 seconds
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#12 We need to talk about Financial Sanctions

As our podcast comes to an end, the year and the German presidency of the European Council do too. One of the foremost projects of the German presidency has been to link EU funding and compliance with rule of law standards. The mechanism is going to be a part of the next long-term budget of the Union, starting from 2021 – that is, if Hungary and Poland vote in favor of it, which is increasingly unclear at the moment. The connection of rule of law violations and EU money, the advantages and shortcomings of financial sanctions for member states as well as how things stand on the current proposal – that’s what we will discuss in this week’s episode of We Need to Talk About the Rule of Law that we will wrap up with an outlook on the current state of the Union, rule of law wise. Our fantastic guests for our final episode are: SERGEY LAGODINSKY, a Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs. And KIM LANE SCHEPPELE, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. This has been We Need to Talk About the Rule of Law, the podcast addressing the Rule of Law crisis in the European Union, brought to you by Verfassungsblog and the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein). We Need to Talk About the Rule of Law has been hosted by Maximilian Steinbeis and Lennart Kokott. Thanks to Dorothee Wildt, Niklas Müller and Eva Schriever of the German Bar Association and to Isabella Falkner and Jochen Schlenk of Verfassungsblog.
12/9/20201 hour, 3 minutes, 10 seconds
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#11 We need to talk about the ECJ

The European Court of Justice has been in the middle of the European rule of law crisis for the last couple of years – and it has called out rule of law violations especially in Hungary and Poland multiple times. But the Court can’t defend the rule of law in the European Union on its own, and it needs institutional partners in this struggle. For example, it needs someone to file cases and to follow up on its orders. Does the European Commission do enough on their part? Who is the guardian of the Treaties – the Commission, the Court, none of the two? The European Council is able to decide on sanctions against member states using the procedure of Article 7 TEU. But that tool has not been effective so far. Do we witness the juridification of a political conflict that puts too much of a burden on the Court?   This is what LENNART KOKOTT discusses in this week’s episode of We Need to Talk about the Rule of Law with our distinguished guests: KATARINA BARLEY is Vice-President of the European Parliament. She has held several cabinet posts on the federal level in Germany, including a term as Minister of Justice. Before that, she has been an attorney and a judge. DIDIER REYNDERS is European Commissioner for Justice. He has held several cabinet posts on the federal level in Belgium, including a term as Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. LAURENT PECH is Professor of European Law and Head of the Law and Politics Department at Middlesex University London.
12/4/202054 minutes, 31 seconds
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#10 We need to talk about the European Convention on Human Rights

Europe is larger than the EU – and a European framework aiming at preserving basic rights and freedoms as well as rule of law safeguards has been in place for 70 years precisely this November: the European Convention on Human Rights. Today, we take a deeper look at the Convention and at the institutions that work to enforce it: The European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. Are they capable of adding another layer of human rights and rule of law protection to the European legal framework? What kind of support do those institutions need in order to be able to fulfil their task? And how is their status today, 70 years after the European Convention on Human Rights has been signed? This is what LENNART KOKOTT discusses in this week’s episode of We Need to Talk About the Rule of Law with our fantastic guests: BASAK ÇALI is Professor of International Law at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and Co-Director of the School's Centre for Fundamental Rights. ANGELIKA NUSSBERGER is Professor of Constitutional Law, International Law and Comparative Law at the University of Cologne, a Member of the Venice Commission, and has been a Judge at the European Court of Human Rights from 2011 to 2019 and the Court’s Vice President from 2017 to 2019. THOMAS MARKERT has until recently been Director and Secretary of the Council of Europe Venice Commission.
11/25/202048 minutes, 12 seconds
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#9 We need to talk about Refugees and Migration Law

We need to talk about refugees and migration law. In discussions about these topics, refugees and migration policy are often being treated as the other of politics and policy. But the way states treat those seeking refuge and asylum on their territory is fundamentally a rule of law issue, and actually says a lot about the current state of the rule of law there: Are refugees able to enter a jurisdiction and apply for their right to asylum? Are due process obligations being observed? Do refugees have access to justice? Does the European migration law system work? This is what LENNART KOKOTT discusses in this week’s episode of We Need to Talk About the Rule of Law with our distinguished guests:   MÁRTA PARDAVI is a lawyer and co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a nongovernmental watchdog organization that protects human dignity and the rule of law. PHILIP WORTHINGTON is the Managing Director of European Lawyers in Lesvos, a NGO providing access to legal counselling in Lesvos. MARIA KALIN is a lawyer with expertise in migration law and member of the migration law committee of the German Bar Association. She teaches at the University of Passau.
11/18/202059 minutes, 52 seconds
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#8 We need to talk about the Penal System

  We need to talk about the Penal System. In European Criminal Law, there largely is consensus that criminal law should be ultima ratio, that is, the last resort when the law is applied and executed. However, criminal law and the penal system at large have also proven to be an efficient way to silence political opponents and citizens turning against the government by literally barring them from raising their voice in public. We have seen examples for this in Europe, and we’ll have to talk about that today. But there are more aspects to this topic: How are prison systems being used as a tool by autocratic-leaning governments? And how is the relationship between the penal system and the rule of law in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice that the European Union aspires to be? This is what LENNART KOKOTT discusses in this week’s episode of We Need to Talk about the Rule of Law, brought to you by Verfassungsblog and the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein), with our fantastic guests: LAURE BAUDRIHAYE-GÉRARD is a solicitor and the European legal director of Fair Trials, a worldwide criminal justice watchdog; JAMES MACGUILL is a solicitor working in public law, especially criminal law, former chair of the Criminal Law Committee of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe and currently the Council’s vice president; KAROLY BÁRD is a professor at the Central European University, teaching human rights law and constitutional theory, and Chair of the University’s Human Rights Program.
11/11/202053 minutes, 17 seconds
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#7 We need to talk about Legal Education

We need to talk about legal education. As the last couple of episodes of our podcast have demonstrated, preserving the rule of law depends to a large quantity on people working in legal professions. What prosecutors, judges, attorneys, and, to a large degree, people working in the executive branch have in common, is a law degree. This means that we have to turn to legal education itself in order to find answers to the question how rule of law systems may remain or become resilient against authoritarian backsliding. Are current legal education systems in the EU equipped for this task? How are they affected by the turn to authoritarianism and illiberalism in a number of member states? And what are intrinsic shortcomings of academic and professional legal education?   This is what LENNART KOKOTT discusses with our distinguished guests: ANNA KATHARINA MANGOLD, a professor of European Law at the Europa-University Flensburg, a member of the Education Committee of the German Women Lawyers’ Association, and an Associate Editor of Verfassungsblog covering anti-discrimination and gender issues, GABOR ATTILA TOTH, he writes primarily about the fields of human rights and constitutional theory, with a current focus on the legal attributes of authoritarianism. He teaches law at the University of Debrecen and bioethics at the Semmelweis University in Budapest, ATTRACTA O’REGAN, a solicitor and barrister, Head of Law Society of Ireland Professional Training and rule of law advisor to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), and JAKUB URBANIK, Chair of Roman Law and the Law of the Antiquity at Warsaw University.
11/4/20201 hour, 2 minutes, 34 seconds
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#6 We need to talk about Attorneys

Attorneys are not on everyone’s mind when they think about the rule of law. The European Commission gave a prime example for that when it remained conspicuously silent about the role of lawyers in its recent Rule of Law report. Yet, attorneys play just as important a role in preserving the rule of law as other parts of the judicial system do. What’s more: Where they are at risk of being prosecuted for doing their jobs, the erosion of the rule of law is imminent. We talk about attorneys with our distinguished guests in this week’s episode: MARGARETE VON GALEN is an attorney working mainly in Criminal Law, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Berlin, and Vice President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE). JEREMY MCBRIDE is a barrister at Monckton Chambers, London, with a focus on human rights law, and a Visiting Professor at Central European University, Budapest. MIKOŁAJ PIETRZAK is an attorney with a focus on human rights and criminal law and president of the Bar Association of Warsaw. COSKUN YORULMAZ is a Turkish lawyer living in exile in London.
10/28/202045 minutes, 11 seconds
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#5 We need to talk about Prosecutors

Public prosecutors decide whether a criminal suspect is investigated. Or not. They decide whether a person is indicted and whether there will be a trial. Or not. If you control them, you can make your opponents' life miserable and let your friends run free. On the other hand: If prosecutors don't have to answer to politics at all, who will hold them accountable? This is what we discuss with these distinguished guests in this week's episode: JOSÉ MANUEL SANTOS PAIS is a Prosecutor at the Portuguese Constitutional Court and head of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors. RADOSVETA VASSILIEVA is a legal scholar from Bulgaria currently living in the UK,   THOMAS GROSS is a Professor for Public Law, European Law and Comparative Law at the University of Osnabrück.  
10/22/202036 minutes, 21 seconds
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#4 We need to talk about Procedural Law

Courts don't just exist. They are shaped by organisational and procedural rules which are enacted by the legislative – and can be abused accordingly. Court packing schemes and tampering with the retirement age of judges are just two examples of such abuse. On the other hand, sometimes the judiciary is indeed in need of reform, e.g. when they no longer manage to deliver judgments in a timely fashion. How do you distinguish "good" judicial reforms from "bad" ones? Is there such a thing as a "good" court packing scheme?  This is what we discuss with these distinguished guests in this week's episode: Christoph Möllers, a Professor of Public Law and Jurisprudence at Humboldt University of Berlin and a former judge at the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg,  MARIAROSARIA GUGLIELMI, the Vice President of the judges association Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés, and ANDRÁS BAKA, for 17 years a judge at the European Court of Human Rights and then President of the Hungarian Supreme Court until he was forced out of office by the FIDESZ governing majority in Hungary.
10/14/202052 minutes, 50 seconds
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#3 We need to talk about Disciplinary Proceedings

Judges, as all other people, sometimes misbehave. In that case, a procedure needs to be in place to examine if a sanction is required and, if so, to impose it.  Disciplinary procedures, however, can be misused by an authoritarian government as blunt yet efficient tool to force the independent judiciary into submission. The most striking case in point is, once again: Poland. Judge Igor Tuleya is facing removal from office and worse for having crossed the government once too often in his discharge of his judicial duties. And he is not the only one. Our distinguished guests for this week's episode are: NINA BETETTO, a judge of the Slovenian Supreme Court and the President of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE),  ADAM BODNAR, the outgoing Human Rights Commissioner of the Republik of Poland, and SUSANA DE LA SIERRA, a professor of administrative law at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain.   
10/7/202047 minutes, 54 seconds
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#2 We need to talk about Judicial Nominations

It's easy to agree that judicial independence is important – but who gets to be a part of the judiciary, who gets promoted to which court and who enters the highest ranks is a decision that has to be taken by someone, and a lot depends on who that someone is. Controlling judicial nominations is one of the key elements in all authoritarian takeover strategies which have been implemented in recent years in Poland, in Hungary and elsewhere. This is what we will discuss with our three distinguished guests today: FILIPPO DONATI is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Florence, a lay member of the Concilio Superiore della Magistratura of Italy and since June of this year the president of the European Network of Councils of the Judiciary. JOANNA HETNAROWICZ-SIKORA is a judge at the district court of Slupsk in northern Poland and a member of the board of the independent judges’ association IUSTITIA. CHRISTIANE SCHMALTZ is a judge at the highest German civil and criminal court, the Bundesgerichtshof.  
9/30/202046 minutes, 57 seconds
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#1 We need to talk about Constitutional Courts

Constitutional courts are under attack in many countries in Europe and beyond. Why? And why now? What can be done to protect them, and what are the most important conditions for constitutional courts to function? These are the questions we discuss in the first episode of our new podcast with three guests, two of them former constitutional judges with first-hand experience on these matters, and one a scholar who has written an outstanding book on the German Bundesverfassungsgericht. STANISLAW BIERNAT was the Vice President of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal while the government launched its takeover campaign against the court. PEDRO CRUZ VILLALON, former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, was a Judge at and President of the Spanish Constitutional Court, which has suffered greatly in recent years in the Catalan secession drama. MICHAELA HAILBRONNER is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Gießen and an expert on the probably most influential constitutional court in Europe, the German Bundesverfassungsgericht.
9/23/202036 minutes, 13 seconds
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#0 Trailer

What is our new podcast going to be about? What is the concept behind "We need to talk about the rule of law"? What do we want to achieve with this podcast? Why is this urgent? Listen to the Trailer to find out!
9/16/20202 minutes, 16 seconds