The Law Society of England and Wales joined the Bar Council, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the International Association of Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute in sending an open letter to Turkish authorities concerning the rising number of cases of human rights violations against lawyers in Turkey.
The letter was sent on 5 April on the “Day of the Lawyers” and called for an end to detention, prosecution and sentencing of legal professionals in the country. Following July 2016’s attempted coup in the country, there has been a marked increase in cases against lawyers (580 arrests, 1,539 prosecutions and 103 long term imprisonments). The associations expressed particular concern for recent cases of those representing military officers (Kemal Uçar) and charities such as Amnesty International (Taner Kılıç).
Express demands iterated in the letter called upon the Turkish government to, inter alia:
- Stop the arbitrary arrest, detention and wrongful prosecution of lawyers;
- Reinstate those wrongly detained, prosecuted and dismissed from their posts;
- Prevent, investigate and punish the use of torture and ill-treatment by State officials;
- Lift the ‘State of Emergency’ and reinstate constitutional guarantees of right to liberty and security of person, fair trial and due process; and
- Ensure and safeguard the independence of the legal profession. A full review of the rationale, the text of the letter and quotes of those involved can be found here.