November 23, 2017
Ugandan lawyer Nicholas Opiyo talked to DW about the deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda and the intimidation and harassment he, and other activists, face in their country.
Nicholas Opiyo is a leading human rights lawyer and the founder of the human rights organization, Chapter Four Uganda. He has been working tirelessly since 2005 to promote civil liberties in Uganda, often for free.
Opiyo will be awarded the German Africa prize at a ceremony in the German capital, Berlin, this evening (23.11.2017). The German Africa Foundation gives the prize to honor “outstanding individuals for their long-standing endeavors to foster democracy, peace, human rights, art, culture, the social market economy and social concerns.”
Opiyo spoke to DW in Berlin about the dangers of being a human rights activist in Uganda and the questionable democratic practices of Uganda’s government.
December 4, 2017
At the Franco-German Council of Ministers in April 2016, Germany and France announced the launch of an annual international Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
In 2017, the prize is being awarded for the second time to committed human rights defenders from around the world who have done outstanding work in their respective countries to uphold human rights and the rule of law. All prize winners will receive a diploma and a medal designed by artist Anna Martha Napp that was chosen by a Franco-German jury. The medal symbolises their active commitment to the defence of human rights.
Here is a list of the 15 prize winners:
- M. Adilur Rahman Kahn (Bangladesh) ;
- M. Nounongnon Balbylas Gbaguidi (Bénin) ;
- Mme Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga (Bolivie) ;
- Mme Ragia Omran (Egypte) ;
- M. César Ricaurte (Equateur) ;
- M. Abdullah Al Khonaini (Koweit) ;
- M. Bekim Asani (Macédoine) ;
- Mme Mandira Sharma (Népal) ;
- Mme Grace Osakue (Nigéria) ;
- Mme Rosemarie Trajano (Philippines) ;
- Mme Elena Milashina (Russie) ;
- Mme Shreen Abdul Saroor (Sri Lanka) ;
- M. Kerem Altiparmak (Turquie) ;
- M. Pavlo Lysianskyi (Ukraine) ;
- Mme Liliana Ortega Mendoza (Venezuela).
Event dates: 24.10.17 to 07.02.18 | Location: Ankara, Gümüşhane, Istanbul, Munich, Rabat, Kiev
Political trials against lawyers and political activists in Turkey and other countries
ELDH will try to send observers to the following trials
- 24 November 2017, Ankara: The trial against Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of HDP
- 1 December 2017, Ankara: Continuation of the trial against Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça.
Quoted from Hürriyet Daily News 27 November 2017:”The Ankara 19th Criminal Court held the fifth hearing in which hunger striking educators Gülmen and Semih Özakça are being tried on terror charges, with the court ruling for the continuation of Gülmen’s arrest.In the court, prosecutor demanded the release of Gülmen on the grounds that there is no risk of her escape or spoliation of evidence. The hearing was adjourned to Dec. 1 2017.Gülmen and Özakça have been on hunger strike for over 250 days, in protest at their dismissal from their posts following the July 2016 coup attempt.They were arrested in May 2017 on terror charges while they were conducting a sit-in protest in Ankara’s central Kızılay neighborhood.”
- 5 December 2017, 09h30, Istanbul:
Beginning of the 300 mass trials against the Academics for Peace
- 5 December 2017, 13h30, Istanbul: Continuation of the trial against 46 lawyers, who had among others alleged members of KCK as clients. The trial started on 16 July 2012.
The report on the last hearing
- 6 December 2017, 10h30 Instanbul: Continuation of the trial against 22 lawyerswho are all leading members of the ELDH member organisation CHD.The Trial started on 24 December 2013
- 6 December 2017, Ankara: Continuation of the trial against Figen Yüksekda, co-chair of HDP. Her indictment contains the following charges:
The ‘new normal’: rising attacks on human rights defenders
September 22, 2017
German lawyers on Friday denounced conditions within the Turkish judiciary and voiced deep concern about the recent arrests of Turkish lawyers in the country.
“The situation of lawyers in Turkey is deteriorating from week to week,” Ulrich Schellenberg, president of the German Bar Association said in a statement.
More than 3,800 judges and public prosecutors were removed from office after the imposition of the state of emergency in July last year. This represents more than a quarter of the total of 14,000 judges and public prosecutors in the country.
A total of 14 lawyers were taken into investigative custody on suspicion of terrorist activities on Thursday by a court in Istanbul.
“Lawyers assume joint liability with their clients. It is a perfidious logic to say that anyone who defends an accused person must be bad himself,” Schellenberg said. There had been cases in Turkey where defendants had not found any defendants “because the lawyers are afraid,” he added.
The statements come amid tense bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany.
August 20, 2017
The Turkish judge sits in a busy cafe in a big German city. Thirteen months ago, he was a respected public servant in his homeland. Now he is heartbroken and angry over the nightmarish turn of events that brought him here.
The day after a 2016 coup attempt shook Turkey, he was blacklisted along with thousands of other judges and prosecutors. The judge smiles, sadly, as he recounts hiding at a friend’s home, hugging his crying son goodbye and paying smugglers to get him to safety.
“I’m very sad I had to leave my country,” he said, asking for his name and location to be withheld out of fear that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government might track him down. “But at least I’m safe and out of Erdogan’s reach. He cannot hurt me anymore.”
Germany has become the top destination for political refugees from Turkey since the failed July 15, 2016 coup. Some 5,742 Turkish citizens applied for asylum here last year, more than three times as many as the year before, according to the Interior Ministry. Another 3,000 Turks have requested protection in Germany this year.
June 19, 2017
The German Bar Association (DAV) has criticized the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which rejected applications concerning post-coup worker purges in Turkey on the grounds that domestic remedies had not been exhausted, Deutsche Welle reported on Sunday.
According to the report, DAV asked the ECtHR to ease the legal conditions necessary to accept applications from Turkey.
DAV Chief Ulrich Schellenberg, who criticized the rejection of applications from Turkey, said there was no working state of law in Turkey and that Turkey could not be compared with other European countries in terms state of law principles. Schellenberg added that the condition of exhausting domestic remedies had to be considered in a different light if one-third of judges and prosecutors were arrested in a short period of time and free advocacy could not be conducted due to oppression in a country.
A ruling by the ECtHR on last Monday turned down an application by a fired Turkish teacher on the grounds that he had not yet exhausted all domestic remedies. The European court referred to a commission that was announced by the Turkish government to review situations of state workers who have been dismissed by government decrees following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, as a means of solution for Gökhan Köksal, a Turkish primary school teacher who had submitted a petition for the court to hear his case.
Turkey’s Humanitarian Crisis Brought The ECtHR Into Disrepute