The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Monday expressed its deep concern when issuing detention warrants for 60 lawyers in Turkey for reasons related to the representation of their clients, in violation of the Turkish government’s international law obligations.
Lawyers should never be arrested or punished for representing their clients, or identified with their clients’ cases, said Roisin Pillay, director of the ICJ’s Europe and Central Asia program. It is a fundamental principle of independence of the legal profession and international law and its respect is essential to guarantee everyone the right to a fair trial.
The Ankara Attorney General’s Office issued arrest warrants on September 11 against 60 lawyers accused of terrorism. Turkish media reported that 47 of the lawyers were arrested, while police are looking for the remaining 13.
According to a statement issued by the prosecutor, lawyers have followed the cases of defendants affiliated with Glen and attempted to manipulate the trials for the benefit of the terrorist organization under the guise of practicing law.
The Turkish government accuses the Glen movement, a religious group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Glen, of staging an attempted coup in July 2016 and calls it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
If the only charges against the arrested lawyers relate to their work as lawyers representing their clients, they should be immediately released, Pillay said.
The ICJ has emphasized that they should not be arrested for legitimately exercising human rights and fundamental freedoms. In the event that any of them are charged with an identifiable crime under Turkish and international law, they should be brought immediately to court to consider whether continued detention is legal, the statement said. the ICJ. If charged, they should be guaranteed all rights to a fair trial by independent and impartial courts.
The statement said the ICJ would follow the case closely to ensure that international law and international standards are respected regarding any action against the detained lawyers.
The detentions come as the ruling Turkish party began work on an amendment to the Lawyers Law following President Recep Tayyip Erdoans’ call on September 1 for the suspension of lawyers accused of links with terrorism.
We should discuss whether to introduce methods such as expulsion from the profession for lawyers, Erdoan told judges and prosecutors at a ceremony in Ankara.
Just as thieves should not be called upon to defend burglars, a terrorist should not be defended by a terrorist lawyer, he said.
the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state that lawyers should not be identified with their clients or their cases as a result of the performance of their duties (Article 18). In one 2018 report on Turkey, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) underlined a pattern of persecution of lawyers representing persons accused of terrorist offenses, being associated with the cause of their clients (or the alleged cause) in the performance of their official duties, and therefore prosecuted for the same crime or a felony related assigned to their client.
The ICJ is a Geneva-based non-profit organization made up of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all parts of the world. He promotes and protects human rights through the rule of the waw, using his legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. Established in 1952, the ICJ aims to ensure the progressive development and effective implementation of international human rights and international humanitarian law; guarantee the realization of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights; safeguard the separation of powers; and guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession.
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