International Bar Associations react the arbitrary arrest and prosecution of lawyer Can Tombul

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The Norwegian Bar Association, the Lawyers for Lawyers, the Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, the Fair Trial Watch and the European Democratic Lawyers wrote a letter to Abdulhamit Gul who is the Turkish Minister of Justice to address their concern on arbitrary arrest and prosecution of lawyer Can Tombul.

Can Tombul is lawyer of the Law Bureau of the Oppressed (EHB). Together with his colleagues Mr. Tombul represents victims and family members of victims of the bombings / massacres in Ankara and Suruç in 2015. He has also been involved in documenting human rights violations in South-East Turkey.

‘According to our information, Mr. Tombul was arrested on 31 July 2018 in Istanbul on charges of membership of a terrorist organization’, and has been held in pre-trail detention ever since. The first hearing in his case will be on 13 December 2018. We were informed that his case file contains information that directly relates to his work as a lawyer: regarding meetings with clients, telephone calls, twitter messages about cases and about human rights violations, demonstrations etc. Two funerals he attended in 2013 and 2015 are also cited as evidence of the charges against him.’ is said in the joint letter.

In the letter, ‘These arrests, detentions and prosecutions form part of a wave of arrests of lawyers accused of involvement in terrorism for activities performed in their professional capacity. Since July 2016 more than 1500 lawyers have been prosecuted, 593 lawyers have been arrested, and 208 lawyers have been sentenced – 15 of them in November 2018 alone – to long imprisonments by first instance courts under article 314 of the Penal Code of Turkey. Article 314 criminalizes membership in and leadership of an armed organization. Lawyers have particularly been targeted due to the identity or the affinity of their clients.’ is said as having based on the Arrested Lawyers Initiative reports.

Finally, Lawyers for Lawyers, Fair Trial Watch, LRWC, AED and the Human Rights Committee of the Norwegian Bar Association respectfully urged Turkish Government to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Can Tombul, withdraw all charges against him, and put an end to all acts of harassment against him;
  • Withdraw all charges against Sezin Uçar, Őzlem Gümüstas and Gülhan Kaya, lift their travel bans, and put an end to all acts of harassment against them;
  • Ensure that all authorities strictly comply with and act in accordance with the due process rights of the lawyers, guaranteed by the ICCPR and referred to above;
  • Guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Turkey enjoy and carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.


Categories: International Advocacy

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