Tag Archives: Arrested Lawyers

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”.

[…]

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).

[…]

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. 

[…]

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’.”

[…]

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.

[…]

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)

Turkey ordered detention of 89 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

29/04/22

Turkish prosecutors have over the past week ordered the detention of 89 people including teachers, lawyers, active duty and dismissed military officers and former military cadets due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to Turkish media reports.

The public prosecutor’s office in Denizli on Monday issued detention warrants for 10 individuals including teachers and lawyers over alleged Gülen links. Police conducted operations in the provinces to detain five suspects.

As part of an investigation launched on Tuesday by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, detention warrants have been issued for 53 people including active duty and former military officers and former military cadets. Turkish police have detained 23 of the suspects in operations in 16 provinces.

[…]

Following the coup attempt, 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.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

https://euromedrights.org/publication/free-the-gezi-defendants/

https://ahvalnews.com/gezi-trial/farce-called-gezi-trial-when-verdict-criminal-act

Turkey: Rights lawyer Can Atalay sentenced to 18 years in jail for “attempting to overthrow the government”

25/04/22

Turkish civil rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala was jailed for life without parole on Monday in a long-running case that sparked a diplomatic crisis and highlighted fears for the rule of law. 

The 64-year-old, who has been held in prison for 4½ years, was found guilty of attempting to overthrow the government in connection with mass protests that broke out in 2013 and a failed coup three years later. 

In a verdict greeted with boos and jeers, seven other defendants were sentenced to 18 years imprisonment at Istanbul’s Caglayan courthouse. The seven other defendants were civil rights activists Mucella Yapici, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Ali Hakan Altinay, Yigit Ali Ekmekci, Cigdem Mater and Mine Ozerden

The trial of Henri Barkey, a US-based professor at Lehigh University, and seven other defendants will be continued in a separate case, the court ruled.

Many raised their fists in salute in a show of defiance and promised to continue their struggle. “We will not bow to persecution. We will resist persecution,” said defendant Can Atalay. 

Rights groups condemned the outcome of a case they had already criticized as unfounded and unjust. 

“Today, we have witnessed a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions,” said Nils Muiznieks, Europe director at Amnesty International, of the “politically motivated charade.” 

He added, “The court’s decision defies all logic. The prosecuting authorities have repeatedly failed to provide any evidence that substantiates the baseless charges of attempting to overthrow the government. 

“This unjust verdict shows that the Gezi trial was only an attempt to silence independent voices.” 

Emma Sinclair-Webb, Europe director at Human Rights Watch, described the conclusion of the “show trial” as “horrifying, cruel and evil.” 

[…]

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/04/turkish-court-jails-philanthropist-osman-kavala-life-widely-condemned-trial

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/25/philanthropist-sentenced-to-life-in-turkey-in-travesty-trial-over-gezi-park-protests

https://m.bianet.org/english/law/260956-gezi-trial-aggravated-life-sentence-for-kavala-18-years-in-prison-for-seven-others

https://m.bianet.org/english/law/260956-judgment-day-in-gezi-trial-court-recesses-hearing-before-announcing-verdict

https://m.bianet.org/english/law/260956-judgment-day-in-gezi-trial-kavala-can-t-be-seen-due-to-problem-in-videoconference-system

https://www.ibanet.org/article/eec314ee-ab8f-4019-8ea5-117a8fce5802

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/delegations/fr/product/product-details/20220421DPU32664

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/can-atalay

https://www.gercekgundem.com/guncel/338243/portre-i-can-atalay-magdurlarin-doganin-avukati (TURKCE)

https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2022/04/26/en-turquie-osman-kavala-condamne-a-perpetuite-au-terme-d-une-parodie-de-justice_6123664_3210.html (FRANCAIS)

(ITALIANO)
(ESPANOL)

Lawyers’ Day in Turkey: Hundreds of lawyers in jail

05/04/22

“We refuse to accept the 5th of April as a day for celebrations while hundreds of our colleagues are jailed over their professional activities,’ an official spokesperson of a lawyers’ association says on ‘Lawyers’ Day’ in Turkey.

Representatives of lawyers’ associations read out statements in Istanbul on Tuesday on the occasion of Lawyers’ Day in Turkey, stating that the 5 April cannot be a day of celebration while so many lawyers are incarcerated solely over their professional activities.

According to a report released in December 2021 by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, more than 1,600 lawyers were detained and prosecuted while 615 lawyers were under pre-trial arrest in Turkey since 2016. Subsequently, 474 lawyers were sentenced to a total prison term of 2,966 years in prison on the grounds of membership of an armed terrorist organisation, or of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Esra Erin, the co-chair of Free Lawyers’ Association’s Istanbul branch said:

“Hundreds of our colleagues are in jail solely due to their professional activities. We refuse to accept the 5th of April as a day for celebration while our imprisoned colleagues are not free and among us. We have been visiting them in prison. Through their determination to stand against injustices and to carry on with their work even in their prison cells, they have reminded us yet again that a lawyer does not perform only in the courthouse, and that this is a profession to be performed practically anywhere as a rights struggle.”

She continued:

“A lawyer’s title is not just something that we lawyers can be stripped of. We carry on the struggle of Fuat Erdoğan, Faik Candan, Şefik Epözdemir and Medet Serhat who were killed in the 1990s, of Tahir Elçi who was killed in 2015, of Ebru Timtik who went on hunger strike for the right to fair trial on 5 April 2020 and who lost her life on 27 August 2020.”

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2022/04/aba-presidential-statement-re-lawyers-day-in-turkey/

https://bizimtv.com.tr/guncel/avukatlar-avukatlar-gununde-istanbul-adliyesinde-bulustu-yuzlerce-meslektasimiz-ha-78503h (TURKCE)

https://t24.com.tr/haber/istanbul-barosu-5-nisan-avukatlar-gunu-nu-yargi-krizi-ile-karsilasiyoruz,1025757

(FRANCAIS)