Amnesty International's 1999 annual report records a disturbing increase in the persecution of lawyers worldwide.
The report details a range of human rights abuses committed by governments and armed opposition groups in 142 countries, highlighting “the extreme danger facing lawyers in many countries”, such as Northern Ireland and El Salvador.
An Amnesty International spokesman says: “This is something which Amnesty has seen in recent years, and which has increased during the 1990s.
“People who work in the front line protecting other people's human rights come in for government repression themselves. Lawyers are almost always one of the professions targeted.”
He points to the example of lawyers acting for Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey, who have been subjected to fierce harassment.
In other respects, efforts to stop human rights abusers acting with impunity have seen “huge steps forward” in the past year, with the arrest of General Pinochet, the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic, and UN support for an international criminal court.