April 20, 2017
The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), and the European Association of Judges (EAJ) firmly condemn the ongoing widespread persecution of lawyers, journalists, judges and prosecutors in Turkey.
After the failed coup of 15 July 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and adopted 21 decree-laws, which led to a serious undermining of human rights and the rule of law across the country. Thousands of judges and prosecutors, and hundreds of journalists and lawyers have been dismissed from jobs, detained, or arrested. A widespread censorship on media has been put in place and hundreds of civil society organisations have been shut down. Several lawyers’ associations and the independent judges’ Association YARSAV have been closed down and their assets have been seized or frozen without compensation.
Currently there are around 2000 (out of 4088 dismissed) judges and prosecutors, 350 lawyers and 150 journalists and media workers being detained, with a further 867 lawyers being prosecuted. Most of them are being targeted solely for carrying out their professional activities, on the basis of alleged accusations of supporting terrorist organisations. In many cases, they are detained without charges and without being brought before a judge. When Turkish courts issue detention warrants, they order the freezing of assets, leaving the detained unable to support their families.
The adopted decree-laws undermine the right of the defence. In anti-terror legislation related cases, the detained have no access to a lawyer for the first five days of police custody, and this right can be suspended for up to six months. When access to a lawyer is authorised, lawyer-client confidentiality is violated: clients’ interviews in prisons are recorded and often take place with the presence of a police officer in the room, and documents are confiscated and checked. Furthermore, several non-governmental organisations have expressed their concern about frequent episodes of mistreatment against detainees.1