Tag Archives: Arrested Lawyers

Turkey investigates chairs of 12 bar associations for insult due to statement on military operations

25/01/23

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the presidents of 12 bar associations across the country on allegations of insulting the Turkish state due to a joint statement they made against the country’s military operations in Syria and Iraq, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

The investigation was launched under the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which concerns the crime of insulting the Turkish nation, state, the republic and the state organs, against the presidents of the bar associations including those of the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin.

The presidents of the 12 bar associations made the joint statement last November in the wake of the airstrikes conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in northern Syria and Iraq against Kurdish militants whom Turkey accuses of terrorism.

In their statement the presidents of the bar associations called for an end to Turkey’s military operations in Syria and Iraq and said they must defend peace under all circumstances.

Diyarbakır Bar Association President Nahit Eren said there was no element of a crime in their statement and that the investigation aims to intimidate them into remaining silent.

The investigation file has been sent to the Justice Ministry by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as prosecutors need to get permission from the ministry for investigations under Article 301 of the TCK.

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Turkey: Judicial harassment and upcoming trial of rights lawyer Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş

21/12/22

[…]

The Observatory has been informed about the judicial harassment and upcoming trial hearing of Ms Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş, a lawyer, women’s rights defender and board member of the Rosa Women’s Association (Rosa Kadın Derneği). Rosa Women’s Association is a civil society organisation focusing on violence against women and women’s rights in Diyarbakır and overall South-Eastern region in Turkey. The Association has supported more than 160 women who survived from violence.

On December 22, 2022, the eighth hearing in the ongoing trial of Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş on the charge of “membership to an armed terrorist organisation” (Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code) will be held before the Diyarbakır 8th Heavy Penal Court. If convicted, Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş could face up to 10 years of imprisonment.

The case against Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş began in May 2020, when Diyarbakır prosecution authorities launched investigations into members of Rosa Women’s Association. The authorities then divided individual cases per person and the investigation against Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş initiated in August 2020.

According to the indictment drawn up by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the charges relate to the allegation that Rosa Women’s Association would praise and defend the activities and principles of the Kurdistan Labour Party (PKK), which would make members and board members of the Association members of an armed terrorist organisation.

Apart from the general allegations against the association, the indictment against Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş presents only one anonymous witness statement as the basis of her alleged “membership to an armed terrorist organisation”. This anonymous statement alleges that, as an attorney, Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş regularly visits women prisoners convicted for terrorism-related charges, financially assists them, and provides them communication with the PKK and the outer world. Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş denied these allegations, explaining that the aim of Rosa Women’s Association is to advocate to put an end to violence against women, and that she did not carry any prison visit in the last three years nor is familiar with any of the women prisoners the anonymous witness mentioned. So far, Diyarbakır 8th Heavy Penal Court did not inquire into the allegations and defences of the parties.

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https://www.omct.org/en/resources/urgent-interventions/t%C3%BCrkiye-judicial-harassment-and-upcoming-trial-hearing-of-elif-tiren%C3%A7-i%CC%87pek-ula%C5%9F

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/turkey-upcoming-trial-hearing-of-women-s-rights-defender-elif-tirenc

https://jinpanel.com/HUKUK/content/view/201269 (TURKCE)

https://www.evrensel.net/haber/477668/rosa-kadin-dernegi-dosyasinda-avukat-ulas-hakkinda-15-yila-kadar-hapis-talebi

Turkey: Corrupt judges are instrumental in cracking down on legal profession

10/12/22

A crucial piece of advice; If you are a senior Turkish judge who is close enough to a drug lord to take a photo of him and his family while he is being sought for murder, beware of any reflective surfaces behind your boss. If, however, you are unlucky enough to be identified from your reflection and lose your job as a judge, you can rejoice in the fact that the Turkish Bar Association will welcome you as a lawyer with open arms. Ask Kemal Alver; he would tell you all about it.

As we mark another Human Rights Day, hundreds of our fellow lawyers still languish in Turkish prisons. The Turkish Government’s crackdown on lawyers using the failed coup of July 2016 as a pretext has not lost momentum even after more than 6 years. Our colleagues continue to be harassed, intimidated, and arrested for simply doing their jobs. Their client lists continue to be the primary evidence for their arrests together with what newspapers they read, or which bank they held accounts in. As of this Human Rights Day, more than 1600 of our colleagues have been detained for membership in a terrorist organisation under Turkey’s infamously vague anti-terror laws which Erdogan’s governments have been shamelessly abusing in order to silence dissent.

The Turkish judiciary as shaped by Erdogan himself following the implication of his son in corruption together with his ministers back in 2013, has been instrumental in the persecution of Turkish lawyers. Erdogan has dismissed, arrested, and imprisoned thousands of judges and prosecutors overnight and replaced them with his foot soldiers from the ranks of his own party and the nationalist MHP, his political ally. The past improper conduct of some judges was overlooked so long as they were prepared to do Erdogan’s bidding in cracking down on the opposition. It was finally the time of the likes of ex-judge Kemal Alver.

Shortly after the all-important HSYK election of October 2015 Erdogan entrusted the chair of the provincial “Commission on Justice ” of Samsun to Judge Alver who at the time was the president of Samsun High Criminal Court. The commission is a critical judicial body which is responsible for providing reports about members of the judiciary on which the HSK bases its decisions of promotion or demotion. It is also responsible for recruiting court clerks.

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Turkey: Seven lawyers among 15 detained in Ankara over Gülen links

20/09/22

Prosecutors in the Turkish capital of Ankara issued detention warrants on Tuesday for 36 people in two separate investigations, leading to the detention of 15 including seven lawyers due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the Bold Medya news website reported.

The detention warrants were issued based on the records of their phone conversations or on witness statements. Among those detained or facing detention are former police academy students and former public servants.

The suspects are accused of using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app considered by Turkey a secret tool of communication among supporters of the Gülen movement, and of having access to the questions on a State Personnel Examination (KPSS) held in 2013.

Following an abortive putsch in July 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

According to a statement from Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ in July, 117,208 people have been convicted, with 1,366 sentenced to life in prison and 1,634 to aggravated life with no chance of parole following the coup attempt. While 87,519 people have been acquitted of charges specifically related to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to Bozdağ, there are doubts about the number of people who have been acquitted of all charges by a court of law.

Judicial experts voice skepticism about the figures announced by the minister, saying that 117,208 convictions are only those that have been upheld by an appeals court, since Justice Ministry data show that more than 265,000 people were sentenced on charges of terrorist organization membership between 2016 and 2020 due to their alleged Gülen links.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/ankara/-/a-casebook-on-the-right-to-a-fair-trial-in-administrative-justice-has-been-published

Death in prison: the case of 3 Turkish lawyers

03/08/22

In the aftermath of the coup attempt of July 2016, the Turkish government initiated a crackdown against actual or perceived members of the Gulen Movement which President Erdogan said was behind the coup attempt. To be exact, 332,884 have been arrested over their links to the Gülen movement, while more than 101,000 of those were put into pretrial detention. Of those 332,884, 116,702 people have so far been convicted of membership in a terrorist organization, while 115,714 are still being investigated or standing trial. Those arrested naturally included people with serious medical conditions.

The Turkish government used ill-treatment and torture at detention centres as an instrument to instil terror hoping those arrested would turn against each other and those who had any links, however small it might be, to report others to the government. This also caused public officials like judges, public prosecutors, police officers, prison staff, doctors etc who served as part of the Turkish prison service to either actively participate in the torture and ill-treatment of arrested victims at worst or at best to unlawfully ignore their suffering.

Of course, lawyers are no exception to this crackdown.  Despite the unequivocal UN principle that  Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions, more than 1600 lawyers have been arrested since  July 2016. The arrests were also made in clear breach of the Turkish Law on Attorneyship which prohibited the arrest of a lawyer save for instances of flagrante delicto.  529 lawyers have so far been sentenced to 3242 years in prison for trumped-up terrorism charges. The evidence against them often included nothing more than their client lists and “anonymous witness” statements.

Fethi Un was one such lawyer. He was a respected member of the Izmir Bar Association with more than 35 years of professional experience. In his own words “during his 36 years as a lawyer, he acted for thousands of clients from different backgrounds and political views at the same desk in the same small office”.

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Violence against doctors and lawyers in Turkey

21/07/22

Violence against doctors and lawyers in Turkey has been growing in recent years. But instead of taking action, the government is openly hostile towards two unions representing the interestes of people working in these professions.

On 6 July, yet another doctor and a lawyer were murdered in Turkey, joining a grim tally of people who have lost their lives in violent attacks while at work. Both killings, which happened in separate incidents, led to reactions from the victims’ respective professional organisations, both of which have been targeted for a long time by the Turkish government led by President Recep Erdoğan‘s Justice and Development Party (AK Party), and its electoral ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

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Death of a lawyer

Around the same time, another professional union, the Istanbul Bar Association, made a separate call for a boycott on the same dates and urged colleagues not to participate in court hearings to protest at the murder of Servet Bakırtaş, a lawyer who was killed by an ex-convict demanding the withdrawal of a compensation case against him.

The president of the Union of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), Erinç Sağkan, who had applied earlier this year to parliament on behalf of his organisation seeking the establishment of an inquiry committee to look into acts of violence against lawyers, said that there had been 19 cases of serious violence against lawyers in the first three months of this year, resulting in the death of three lawyers. He claimed this was a result of the backslide of the rule of law and working conditions for lawyers.

Parliament, where the majority of seats are held by the AKP and MHP, did not take action, neither after his application nor after a call made by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for an extraordinary session to enact a law on combating violence against doctors and lawyers.

“Instead of ‘looking sad’, if you’re upset, let’s take care of this right away. Let’s enact the Bakırtaş-Karakaya Violence Prevention Law. Immediately,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a tweet on 7 July.  

Government vitriol aimed at unions of lawyers and doctors

The government does not hide its animosity towards both the TTB and TBB, which are traditionally among the strongest civil society organisations in Turkey. 

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https://en.qantara.de/content/violence-against-doctors-and-lawyers-in-turkey-exposed-and-at-risk

Legal profession under attack worldwide, with lawyers in Turkey suffering the brunt of it

17/06/22

The legal profession plays a central role in the administration of justice and the defense of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. For instance, lawyers ensure that the right to a fair trial is observed in judicial procedures and help legal and real persons effectively exercise their rights and freedoms. In countless instances, lawyers have played a crucial role in the conduct of free and fair elections and by so doing help protect democracy. However, nowadays, lawyers are increasingly the target of attack both individually and institutionally.

According to a new report by UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Diego García-Sayán that is being presented to the 50th Human Rights Council to be held in Geneva between June 13 and July 8, there is a global increase in practices that undermine, limit, restrict and hinder the practice of law. The report is mainly based on inputs/submissions made by bar associations and human rights NGOs in response to a call circulated in December 2021 by the UN special rapporteur and states that lawyers whose activities are focused on the fight against corruption, the defense of human rights or the protection of groups in vulnerable situations are especially under attack.

The report identifies trends and patterns of undue interference and attack on the legal profession and says: “Those who defend human rights in cases related to national security or corruption are in a particularly sensitive situation. Another issue is the arbitrary identification of the lawyer with his client.” The special rapporteur said he received information indicating that between 2010 and 2020, more than 2,500 lawyers were killed, detained or kidnapped in various regions of the world.

Of course, Turkey is one of most notorious countries for attacks on lawyers. The UN report, referring to The Arrested Lawyers Initiative reports, states that “Between 2016 and 2022, more than 1,600 lawyers were prosecuted and 615 were placed in pretrial detention. A total of 474 lawyers have been sentenced to 2,966 years of imprisonment on the grounds of membership in a ‘terrorist organization’.”

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https://www.politico.eu/article/turkey-gezi-seven-must-be-freed/

https://ahvalnews.com/turkish-judicial-system/anatomy-turkish-judges-service-executive-power-arrested-lawyers-initiative

Protection of lawyers against undue interference in the free and independent exercise of the legal profession – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán (A/HRC/50/36) [EN/AR/RU/ZH]

26/05/22

Human Rights Council
Fiftieth session
13 June–8 July 2022
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Summary

In the present report, which is being submitted pursuant to resolution 44/8, the Special Rapporteur addresses the issue of the protection of persons who practise law, since the free exercise of the legal profession is an indispensable element of the judicial guarantees that ensure a fair trial and the protection of human rights. The Special Rapporteur describes the international and regional standards that are aimed at protecting the legal profession.

The Special Rapporteur notes with concern a global increase in practices that undermine, limit, restrict and hinder the practice of law. This is especially true for lawyers whose activities are focused on the fight against corruption, the defence of human rights or the protection of groups in vulnerable situations.

In his report, the Special Rapporteur identifies trends and patterns of interference in and attacks on the legal profession. He also describes the means used to carry out such attacks, including interference in bar associations, legislation, physical and psychological abuse of lawyers and their families, defamation in the media and in social media, arbitrary disciplinary proceedings, use of the judicial system and the police corps. The Special Rapporteur has also identified violations of professional secrecy, as well as searches of the offices of legal professionals and seizure of their property.

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https://reliefweb.int/report/world/protection-lawyers-against-undue-interference-free-and-independent-exercise-legal-profession-report-special-rapporteur-independence-judges-and-lawyers-diego-garcia-sayan-ahrc5036-enarruzh

https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/thematic-reports/ahrc5036-protection-lawyers-against-undue-interference-free-and

https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input/calls-input/2022/call-input-protection-lawyers

https://menarights.org/en/articles/study-protection-lawyers-against-undue-interference-lebanon

European Parliament condemned the crackdown on lawyers in Turkey and call for the release of imprisoned lawyers

08/02/22

On Tuesday, 7 June 2022, the European Parliament adopted 2021 Report on Turkey by 448 votes in favour, 67 against and 107 abstentions. MEPs warn that in spite of Turkey’s repeated statements that it aims to become an EU member, over the past two years the country has consistently gone back on its commitments in relation to the accession process.

The report points to the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey. MEPs regret the sustained legal and administrative pressure on civil society and human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.

The European Parliament particularly condemned continuing crackdown on lawyers. MEP said:

the Parliament “is appalled by reports of a pattern of persecution of lawyers representing individuals accused of terrorism whereby the lawyers were prosecuted for the same crime as that attributed to their client, or a related crime, in a context where this constituted a clear obstacle to the enjoyment of the right to a fair trial and access to justice.”

[…]

https://m.bianet.org/english/law/261897-pace-rapporteurs-to-visit-turkey-for-kavala-case

https://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/turquie-le-parlement-europeen-critique-la-degradation-de-l-etat-de-droit-20220607 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/fr/press-room/20220603IPR32136/la-turquie-continue-de-s-eloigner-des-valeurs-et-normes-de-l-ue

Turkey: Baseless conviction of Amnesty’s Honorary Chair must be quashed, following long-awaited ECtHR ruling

31/05/22

The European Court of Human Rights ruled today that the 2017-2018 detention of Amnesty Turkey’s then-chair, Taner Kılıç was a violation of his rights to liberty and security (Article 5.1, 5.3 and 5.5) and freedom of expression (Article 10). Following the ruling, Amnesty International reiterated its call on the Turkish authorities to overturn the unjust and baseless conviction of Taner Kılıç, who faces another two-and-a-half years in prison if his conviction is upheld.

Taner Kılıç was arrested in June 2017 and detained for more than 14 months. In July 2020, he was sentenced to six years and three months. The verdict is currently pending at the Court of Cassation – Turkey’s highest court of appeal.

“This long-awaited European Court ruling confirms what we have known from the start: that Taner Kılıç – a life-long human rights defender was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty when jailed in a high security prison on trumped up charges,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.

“Despite the fact that the allegations levelled against him were comprehensively exposed as baseless during the trial, the court in Turkey convicted Taner Kılıç, who still faces a return to jail to serve out the rest of his politically motivated sentence. The European Court has this morning reaffirmed that the authorities in Turkey did not have ‘any reasonable suspicion that Taner had committed an offence’ to justify his pre-trial detention and no further evidence was ever presented to justify his conviction.”

Despite the lack of evidence, Taner Kılıç, a refugee rights lawyer and former and now honorary chair of Amnesty’s Turkey section, was convicted of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’.

“Today’s ruling provides a clear and emphatic framework for Turkish authorities to ensure that Taner’s human rights are not further violated,” said Nils Muižnieks.

[…]

https://balkaninsight.com/2022/05/31/european-court-turkey-broke-law-by-arresting-amnesty-campaigner/

(TURKCE)

https://tr.euronews.com/2022/05/31/aihm-af-orgutu-direktoru-k-l-c-davas-nda-turkiye-yi-haks-z-buldu

https://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/cedh-ankara-condamnee-pour-l-emprisonnement-du-president-de-la-branche-turque-d-amnesty-international-20220531 (FRANCAIS)