On Monday 26th June 2023, as a part of Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project, the Arrested Lawyers Initiative organised an event in collaboration with IBAHRI, REDRESS and Human Rights Solidarity which was hosted by Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws in the UK Parliament.
The event covered ‘The Deterrence Potential of Multilateral Sanctions for Human Rights Abuses in Turkey’ to discuss impunity, torture, and ill-treatment in Turkey in relation to Magnitsky Sanctions from the United Kingdom.
Speakers, Kevin Dent KC, Sarah Teich, Natalia Kubesch, and Michael Polak, presented at the event on their work against this issue and encouraged the public to raise awareness on the current political situation in Turkey and the UK’s benefit to help.
Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project
The state of emergency in Turkey marked the beginning of gross human rights violations, including widespread torture facilitated by the adoption of impunity provisions, enforced disappearances and mass detention on an industrial scale.
According to official figures, more than 600,000 people have been detained by the police on overly broad terrorism charges, while more than 100,000 have been remanded in custody. Between 2016 and 2021, more than 310,000 people were convicted of membership of an armed terrorist organisation. Since 2016, more than 1600 lawyers have been detained, and so far, 551 lawyers have been sentenced to 3356 years in prison on terrorism-related charges, mostly for membership in terrorist organisations.
In September 2020, The Arrested Lawyers launched the Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project in response to the ongoing rule of law violations and imprisonment of lawyers, activists, journalists and academics on trumped-up charges. Prominent British barristers Kevin Dent KC and Michael Polak joined the project.
After months of research, the Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project submitted its first submission, prepared by Kevin Dent KC and Michael Polak, to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in May 2021, seeking to place notable human rights abusers in Turkey on the UK sanctions list. REDRESS also contributed to this submission and the project by reviewing the submission and supporting our training activities.
As a second step, a similar submission was made to the US government. The US submission was again made possible with the support of Mr Dent and Mr Polak, as well as the US-based NGOs Human Rights First and Human Rights Foundation.
Finally, the Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project recently made its third submission to the Canadian government, authored by Mr Dent, Mr Polak and Ms Sarah Teich.
In the event, panelist underlined that the case of Turkey demonstrates that even established democracies face the risk of sliding into authoritarianism and instability if they fail to confront emerging abuses and allies do not hold them to account.