Robert R. Amsterdam, the controversial lawyer who lobbied several institutions and key figures in the international community to support Ugandan musician-turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi’s presidential bid, is now representing Tanzanian opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu.
Lissu is this Monday, July 27, expected to return to Tanzania where he intends to challenge President John Pombe Magufuli in the forthcoming general elections.
“As the international legal team acting on behalf of Mr. Lissu, we notify the potential human rights abusers within the government that their actions will have permanent consequences,” warned Amsterdam in a statement issued this past weekend.
“Should Mr. Lissu’s rights be violated upon his return, it is our intention to file immediately for measures in response before all relevant local, regional, and multilateral bodies,” he added.
“This would include but not be limited to mechanisms for ensuring the respect by Tanzania of its domestic and international obligations to protect human rights.”
Amsterdam has since been accused of using his international networks to interfere in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries.
Many say he represents interests of powerful businesses and bodies targeting countries’ vast natural resources especially oil.
Amsterdam acted as an international counsel to Russian billionaire and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was convicted of fraud and tax evasion in the mid-2000s.
He was almost arrested by Russian Federal Security Service officers in the middle of the night.
Amsterdam also represented the pro-government Red Shirts in Thailand after the 2006 military coup overthrew the government.
The Real Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (R-SPLM), the National Salvation Front (NAS) and the South Sudan United Front (SSUF) opposition movements in South Sudan have retained the international law firm of Amsterdam & Partners LLP following their refusal to be recognised by IGAD during the recent formation of the government of national unity.
However, opposition groups in Africa have since approached Amsterdam to tap into vast international networks to help them address human right abuses by governments in their respective countries.
Lissu returns to Tanzania from Belgium where he has been receiving specialized treatment for three years after his assassination attempt in 2017.
The Vice chair of opposition party CHADEMA, arrives at Julius Nyerere International Airport aboard an Ethiopian airline plane at around 13:00 hours East African time.
The party has since rallied thousands of people to welcome Lissu. He was expected to return on July 28 but postponed his trip due to the death of former President Benjamin Mkapa.
Tanzania police issued a statement, saying rallies won’t be tolerated during the morning period.
On his part, Amsterdam demanded Lissu’s “constitutional rights to freedom of expression, assembly and movement are respected and not infringed nor interfered upon by the Government of Tanzania or its security agencies.”
He added: “We expect that the Government of Tanzania and its security agencies will afford Mr. Lissu with the necessary personal protection, especially given the fact that he has already been a victim of a failed but unresolved assassination attempt.”