Persecution of Lawyers in Turkey | November 2019 | Seventeen lawyers have been victimized

(Published on 24 Nov 2019. Updated on 30 Nov 2019.)

Between 1-30 November 2019, three lawyers were sentenced, six lawyers were detained and seventeen lawyers were subjected to investigations or interdiction orders which preventing them from representing certain individuals. 

As of 30 November 2019, the number of the lawyers who have been convicted in Turkey since 2016 is 334.

In response to a parliamentary question of Mr Sezgin Tanrikulu, the Turkish Ministry of Justice announced the number of lawyers held in prison by years. According to the Ministry of Justice the number of lawyers remanded in pretrial detention by years as following: 354, 487, 169 and 143, respectively in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.


27 November 2019 | Ankara |Fatih Kanat who is the chair of Ankara branch of the Human Rights Association and lawyer Kemal Akalin have been detained with a police raid. They are still under police custody.

24-26 November 2019 | Istanbul – Kocaeli |Lawyers Zakire Dündar and Yüksel Genç were detained in Kocaeli within the scope of police operation against local Kurdish politicians. They are still under police custody.

Lawyer Yaprak Turkmen was detained on 24 November in Istanbul. She was released after 4-day police custody.

21 November 2019 | Adana | The Adana Court sentenced former chair of Adana Bar Association, Mengücek Gazi Çıtırık, along with 58 individuals, to 5 months in jail due to their press statement denouncing a terrorist attack against pro-Kurdish Party (HDP)’s rally in 2016. The sentence given on grounds of violation of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations. The Court converted the jail term to a pecuniary penalty amounts of 3000 -TL.

21 November 2019 | Hakkari | Hakkari Heavy Penal Court sentenced Harika Gunay Karatas to 3 years 1 month and 15 days jail term on grounds of spreading terrorist propaganda. Harika Gunay Karatas (@harikagnaykarat) is the member of Hakkari Bar Association, and lawyer to imprisoned journalist Nedim Turfent.


21 November 2019 | Balikesir | On 20 November 2019, lawyer Fuat Sengul who is the member of Izmir Bar Association and Libertarian Lawyers Association (@ohdgenelmerkez) was detained with a police raid and taken to the province of Balikesir from Izmir for interrogation.

On 21 November 2019, Mr Sengul was remanded to pretrial detention by the Balikesir Criminal Peace Judgeship.

Mr Sengul is known as a prominent human rights activist, he prepared or contributed the preparation of several reports regarding the rights violations in prisons. The Arrested Lawyers Initiative was told that Mr Sengul was targeted by the Balikesir Prosecutor’s Office due to reports he had contributed on rights violations occurred in prisons in Balikesir.

In the course of the last three years, several rights violations has been reported from the prisons in Balikesir.

18 November 2019 | Gaziantep – Mersin | Eleven lawyers who are the members of the Libertarian Lawyers Association were subjected to intimidation by a deputy from the Turkey’s National Movement Party. Subsequently, these lawyers were banned for one year from representing fifty-seven individuals including local HDP politicians who were detained on 14 November 2019. This interdiction order means that these lawyers are subject to an investigation.

Emergency Decree No. 667 and Law no. 6749 expanded prosecutors’ authority to request to ban lawyers. The concerned provision as follows:

Within the scope of the investigations performed, the defence counsel selected under Article 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code no. 5271 of 4 December 2004 or assigned under Article 150 thereof may be banned from taking on his/her duty if an investigation or a prosecution is being carried out in respect of him/her due to the offences enumerated in this Article. The Criminal Peace Judgeship shall render a decision on the public prosecutor’s request for a ban without any delay. Decision on banning shall be immediately served on the suspect and the relevant Bar Presidency with a view to assigning a new counsel.

14-21 November 2019 | Gaziantep – Mersin | Lawyer Ahmet Hartavi who is the member of Mersin Bar Association and the Libertarian Lawyers Association was taken into custody on 14 November 2019. After seven-day police custody, he was referred to Gaziantep Criminal Peace Judgeship for arrest. Having interrogated by Gaziantep Criminal Peace Judgeship Mr Hartavi was released with probation.

6 November 2019 | Istanbul | Istanbul Heavy Penal Court has sentenced lawyer Kemal Ucar (@crkml) to seven and half years jail term for abetting to an armed terrorist organisation. Mr Ucar was representing some military officers who were on trial for their alleged participation to 2016’s coup attempt. There are very strong indications that Mr Ucar was targeted only because of identity of his clients.

November 2019 | Ankara| It was reported by Turkish and international media that a Turkish lawyer, Yilmaz Sunar who had been hired by the German Embassy in Ankara was detained by Turkish authorities on espionage charges.

Pro-government daily, Yenisafak claimed that Mr Sunar also had been representing embassies of Norway, Sweden and Netherlands in Ankara. Pro-government A-Haber labeled Mr Sunar as ‘traitor’ and “Feto’s Spy Lawyer’ though he was working under a legal contract as a legal counsel.


The Turkish Constitutional Court rendered another controversial judgment on a provision which offers a wide range of impunity to civil servants for their actions performed during the state of emergency.

Having declared the state of emergency, the Cabinet of Ministers enacted Decree Law no. 667 (dated 23 July, 2016) of which Art. 9 reads as follows:


ARTICLE 9 – (1) Legal, administrative, financial and criminal liabilities shall not arise in respect of the persons who have adopted decisions and fulfil their duties within the scope of this Decree Law.

The Main Opposition Party, CHP, lodged an action for annulment with the TCC against this provision, however, the TCC dismissed this request saying it did not have jurisdiction over the Emergency Decrees.

Subsequently, the Decree Law no. 667 was approved by the Parliament with the Law no. 6749 and acquired the status of ordinary law. Following this legislative action, the Main Opposition Party brought an action for annulment against the Law no. 6749. However, the TCC, having examined the merits, once again dismissed the action for annulment on grounds of such impunity clauses were necessary to encourage the public servants so they could perform their duties effectively to overcome the threats arose out of the state of emergency. (File No: 2016/2025, Decision No: 2016/93)


20 November 2019 | Turkey has investigated 559,064 people for alleged links to the Gülen movement, which is accused of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denial of any involvement, as well as detaining 261,700 suspects over Gülen ties and remanding 91,287 to pretrial detention since the 2016’s coup attempt, the interior minister told during a meeting in the Turkish Parliament.

Still, 26,952 people are in prison on allegations of Gülen movement membership including pre-trial detention, Süleyman Soylu said.

On 15 July, 2019, Celal Uzunkaya who is then general director of the Turkey’s General Directorate of Security (National Police) said that 540,000 individuals have been detained on grounds of their alleged cohesion or connection with the Gulen Movement / Structure which was outlawed by the Turkish Government after the coup attempt.


Statement by twenty-two bar associations.

Categories: Torture and Impunity, Unjust / Wrongful Convictions, Weekly Newsletters

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  1. Mass Arrests of Lawyers Continues in Turkey – The Arrested Lawyers Initiative
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