5th April is the Lawyers’ Day in Turkey, the country in which lawyers have been exposed to a relentless purge. Our latest report has revealed that since the attempted coup of 2016, more than 1,500 lawyers have been prosecuted, 605 have been arrested, and in some cases subjected to torture and ill-treatment, just because they were practising their duty as the defence as part of the legal mechanism. What is worse, so far, 354 lawyers have been sentenced to 2,158 years in prison.
The right to defence, and the guarantee that lawyers can perform their profession without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation, or harassment, are cornerstones of a fair trial. The above-mentioned situation in Turkey indisputably has a chilling effect on Turkish People’s right to a fair trial.
On the occasion of Lawyers’ Day in Turkey, we urge the Turkish Government to take steps to ensure that all of the jailed lawyers are immediately released and the charges against them dropped, to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of lawyers in Turkey, as well as guaranteeing their ability to perform their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation, or harassment. It is now, more than ever, urgent, in the face of COVID19 and the overcrowding of Turkish prisons.
Also, the Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative would like to call for the international legal organisations and the international community to be aware of the situation in Turkey and to continue supporting Turkish lawyers.
Lastly, we would like to thank the Italian National Bar Council -Il Consiglio Nazionale Forense- which, on the occasion of Lawyers’ Day, published our report named ‘Mass Prosecution of Lawyers in Turkey’ in English and Italian which is invaluable solidarity and great contribution to our awareness-raising campaign.
The Arrested Lawyers Initiative
Our Statement in pdf format is here
Joint report in English is here