The Arrested Lawyers Initiative published a new report entitled “Incarceration of Turkish Lawyers | En Masse Arrests and Convictions (2016-2018).”
According to the report, 1539 Turkish lawyers have been prosecuted and 580 lawyers have been arrested since 2016 July. And so far, 103 Turkish lawyers have been sentenced to long imprisonment by the first instance courts under article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The report reveals that all persecuted lawyers are being charged with terror-linked offenses; the main two accusations directed against them are membership to an armed terrorist organisation, and forming and leading an armed terrorist organisation. Article 314 of the Penal Code criminalises the establishment and commanding of (Article 314/1), as well as membership (Article 314/2) to an armed organisation. Under the Turkish Penal Code, these two offences attract 7,5 to 22,5 years imprisonment.
According to the report “The Turkish Penal Code does not contain a definition of an armed organisation or an armed group. The lack of legal definitions and criteria of the armed terrorist organization and the crime of membership in the armed terrorist organization make them prone to arbitrary application. Vague formulation of the criminal provisions on the security of the state and terrorism and their overly broad interpretation by the Turkish judges and prosecutors make all lawyers and other human rights defenders a prospective victim of judicial harassment. This blurred area under the Turkish Penal code is actively used by the Turkish government to investigate, prosecute and convict opponents. As it has become a common practice in after the 15th July Coup attempt, 402.000 individuals have been investigated, prosecuted and / or convicted for terrorism offences stipulated in article 314 of Turkish Penal Code.”
“Lawyers have particularly been targeted due to identity or affinity of their clients. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that the OHCHR has observed a pattern concerning persecution of lawyers representing individuals accused of terrorism offences, where they are associated with their clients political views (or alleged political views) in the discharge of their professional duties and are consequently prosecuted for the same or other related offences of which their clients are being accused.” was said in the report.
“The efforts and cooperation of the above mentioned international organizations together with any others which may join them in the future, is paramount in exerting pressure on Turkey to respect universal human rights and to bring its criminal law in line with the standards specified by the European Convention on Human rights and acceptable to the European Commission and the European Union. The unified front of the Bar Associations and other legal organizations in the European Countries which will be showed to the Turkish authorities to make them stop criminalizing Turkish lawyers is absolutely crucial for the existence of right to defence and separation of powers in Turkey. Arrested lawyers and human rights defenders who have to suffer inhumane treatment at the hands of Turkish officials desperately need such action coming from European organizations. Any effort in support of arrested lawyers, human rights defenders and other victims of the Turkish government’s unlawful actions is highly appreciated.” was highlighted in the report as the recommendation.
To read and download the report, click here