Eight countries’ bars condemn lawyer harassment in Turkey

The continued mistreatment of lawyers in Turkey has been condemned by a joint statement from 27 bar associations, human rights organisations and legal groups representing eight countries.  

A joint statement following a fact-finding mission to the country said: ‘We are distressed that lawyers in Turkey continue to face ongoing harassment, arbitrary detention, unfair trials, torture and ill-treatment. Lawyers in Turkey are arrested, detained and imprisoned simply due to their legal work – including clients they represent and professional bodies to which they belong.

‘Many of the lawyers we visited in prison are members of the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) and the People’s Law Office (HHB). They have practised in criminal and human rights law for many years and prove that the Turkish government is systemically targeting lawyers who defend the fundamental human rights of the people of Turkey.’

When these lawyers find themselves detained, they are denied the right to a fair trial, the statement continued. 

Detention conditions, meanwhile, violate internationally-accepted standards for prisons. ‘Detentions continue to be arbitrary and are prolonged with little justification or explanation. They have restricted access to family members and are held in isolating conditions, often able to interact with only two or three other detainees. Disciplinary measures are being applied to deny the lawyers’ conditional release. We are extremely concerned that at least two of the lawyers, Mr. Ünsal and Mr. Gökoğlu, have reported being subjected to torture.’

The statement calls on the Turkish government to halt all acts of intimidation and harassment targeting lawyers and respect the independence of the legal profession, in accordance with international law. 

Delegation members included representatives of the Law Society and the Union Internationale des Avocats – Institute for Rule of Law. 


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