October 23, 2019
We write on behalf of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of lawyers and human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the independence and security of human rights defenders, the integrity of legal systems and the rule of law through advocacy, education and legal research. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
LRWC has written in the past with respect to various Turkish lawyers and human rights defenders who have been detained, arrested, charged, and/or imprisoned in violation of Turkey’s international human rights law obligations and Turkey’s own Constitution. Communications to the Government of Turkey have been made by LRWC regarding the cases of: Nurullah Albayrak, Eren Keskin, Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Ramazan Demir, Mustafa Aydin, Can Tombul, Taner Kilic and numerous other Turkish lawyers. LRWC has also made oral and written statements to the UN Human Rights Council and submissions to the UN Human Rights Council and Special Procedures regarding widespread persecution of lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders through prosecutions, convictions, arbitrary detentions and other grave human rights abuses in violation of international law.
LRWC has just been advised that on 16 October 2019 the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice 2nd Penal Chamber (Court of Appeals) has rejected the appeals and confirmed the sentences imposed in March 2019 by the Istanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court on lawyers who are members of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD). The convictions and sentences are contrary to international human rights law, contrary to Turkey’s constitution, and contrary to basic principles of fairness and justice. The alleged crimes that underlie these convictions would not be considered crimes in any country governed by the rule of law. We urge you to intervene to ensure the release of those sentenced and the vacation and nullification of the convictions and sentences imposed.
An international delegation of lawyers who observed the March 2019 court proceedings that imposed the convictions and sentences, concluded that the, “trial is completely null and void” and called for, “the immediate acquittal of all defendants, to be attained through all possible judicial and legal means.”
Background of this Case
This case involves the sentencing of 20 ÇHD lawyers. The six lawyers, sentenced to less than five years in prison do not have the right to any further appeal. ÇHD lawyers sentenced to more than five years in prison, have a right to appeal to Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeal.