27 July 2020:
Turkish bar association files complaint against Islamist magazine over caliphate call
A Turkish bar association has filed a criminal complaint against Islamist magazine Gerçek Hayat over the publication’s call for a Islamic caliphate, Diken news site reported on Monday. The move by the Ankara Bar Association follows weekly magazine’s latest issue on the reconversion of Hagia Sophia, which featured an explicit mobilisation call in the name of a religious state under the leadership of an Islamic steward.
“If not now, when? If not you, then who? Come together for the caliphate,’’ the magazine said.
The criminal complaint, levelled at the magazine’s editor-in-chief and Islamist pro-government Yeni Akit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak, who shared the magazine cover on social media, accuses the publication of inciting the public to hate and enmity and provocation to violate the law.
On Friday, Turkey reopened Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia as a mosque in a ceremony attended by tens of thousands.
The move fulfils a long-time call by the country’s Islamists, who see the former seat of the Greek Orthodox Church as a symbol of a clash between Christianity and Islam. Gerçek Hayat magazine is part of the Albayrak media group, owned by the brother of Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.
10 July 2020:
Turkey suspends 26 judges and prosecutors over alleged Gülen links
Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has decided to suspend 26 judges and prosecutors, citing links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the T24 news website reported on Friday. The suspended judges and prosecutors could be disbarred, pending the results of an investigation.
The Turkish government alleges that the Gülen movement was behind a failed coup in July 2016, although the movement strongly denies any involvement in it. The HSK disbarred some 4,500 judges and prosecutors following the abortive putsch.
8 Turkish lawyers demanding a fair trial continue hunger strike in prison
Eight lawyers, who were all members of the now-closed Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), are on a hunger strike in prison, demanding a fair trial,
according to Turkish media reports. The lawyers began the hunger strike on Feb. 3 in protest of the lengthy jail sentences they were handed down on terrorism charges. All the lawyers were arrested in a September 2018 operation.
Among the lawyers is former ÇHD Chairperson Sulçuk Kozağaçlı, a human rights attorney who received the Lawyers for Lawyers Award for 2019. Kozağaçlı was sentenced to 11 years on charges of membership in a terrorist organization in a trial that concluded in March 2019.
Lawyer Hüseyin Çevik, a former ÇHD member who follows the trials of jailed lawyers, said the trials are politically motivated. “It is very obvious that the hand of the government is behind the trial of my colleagues. When they were first detained on Sept.12, 2018, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu came to the İstanbul Security Directorate and personally observed their interrogations for hours. Then, they were re-arrested only 24 hours after their initial release,” he said.
Çevik also noted that the lawyers began the hunger strike due to the series of unlawful actions they had experienced. “The only thing they want is a fair trial both for themselves and for their clients,” he added. The ÇHD is among the hundreds of organizations in Turkey that were closed down by the Turkish government in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 on the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
Human Rights Council
Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
20–31 January 2020
Summary of Stakeholders' submissions on Turkey
Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights page 4:
25. AFD, ALI and JS12 reported that since the failed coup, approximately 1546 lawyers
were prosecuted, 599 arrested and detained arbitrarily, including their lawyers have been
arrested themselves or faced intimidation. Bar Associations and Law Societies have been
closed, and 14 of the lawyers arrested were presidents (or former presidents) of their
respective provincial bar associations, with 311 lawyers convicted and sentenced.57
24 January 2020:
Top judicial body says 400 judges, prosecutors under investigation over Gülen links
Deputy Chairman of Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) Mehmet Yılmaz has said there are ongoing investigations into 400 judges and prosecutors over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 2016, the t24 news website reported.
“All the documents and information [about these judges and prosecutors] are being collected by judicial investigators,” Yılmaz said, adding that the HSK is continuing to investigate the allegations, which are supported by concrete evidence, against the judicial officials.
More than 6,000 judges and prosecutors have been removed from their jobs since the coup attempt due to their alleged links to the movement.
9 September 2019:
Former judge given 10 years over Gülen links
Hasan Hüseyin Özese, a former judge dismissed from his position after a failed coup in Turkey in 2016, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday on conviction of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. He was one of the judges hearing trials between 2008 and 2012 concerning the clandestine Ergenekon organization, which was once considered the “deep state” of Turkey.
Turkey accuses the Gülen movement, once a government ally, of orchestrating the failed putsch, although it strongly denies any involvement. Since the coup attempt, more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed from their jobs, with many of them prosecuted on charges of membership in the movement.
The court acquitted Özese of violating the Turkish constitution.
Following a rift between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government and the Gülen movement, the Ergenekon trials began to be considered a “scheme” against certain military members, bureaucrats and journalists by the latter.
2 September 2019:
Turkey has prosecuted some 1,500 lawyers, arrested 599, since failed coup
Turkey has prosecuted more than 1,500 attorneys, arresting 599 of them, on terrorism charges, since a 2016 failed coup, according to a newly released report from The Arrested Lawyers initiative. As of Sept. 1, 321 lawyers had been sentenced to a total of 2,022 years in prison for terrorist group membership or disseminating terrorist propaganda.
Turkey survived a coup attempt in 2016, after which a two-year-long state of emergency was declared by the government, which accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of orchestrating the abortive putsch. The Gülen movement strongly denies any involvement.
The state of emergency measures are still at work in the country’s judiciary as mass detention continue. “Lawyers have particularly been targeted due to the identity or affinity of their clients,” the report said. Dozens of lawyers who were defending Gülen-linked suspects have been arrested due to alleged Gülen ties in the last three years.
The report also said Turkey undermined the independence of bar associations with a presidential degree that gives the Turkish president the authority to dismiss chairpersons or board members of bar associations.
Still, more than 50 bar associations on Monday boycotted a ceremony marking the opening of the new judicial year at the presidential palace, stating that attending the event would jeopardize their independence.
The report criticized the Justice Ministry for preventing judges and prosecutors who were dismissed by government decrees during the state of emergency from working as private lawyers. Turkey has sacked more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors since the failed coup.
25 July 2019:
Lawyer jailed pending trial for “insulting the president”
Mehmet Demirlek, a lawyer in the Aegean province of Manisa, has been jailed pending trial on the charge of “insulting the president” on account of his social media posts. An investigation was launched against Demirlek after AKP Turgutlu district executives filed a complaint about the lawyer, claiming that he insulted President Erdoğan on Facebook.
Demirlek, who was summoned to the local courthouse to give his statement as part of the investigation, was initially referred to a court for arrest. The court released Demirlek under judicial control measures, pending trial. However, the prosecutor objected to his release and Demirlek was arrested the same night and jailed pending trial by the court on duty.
18 July 2019:
Turkey’s roll call of injustice – UN submission
Turkish citizens are resorting in vain to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in ever greater numbers as trust in their domestic courts erodes, the Law Society of England and Wales said as it made a joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review of Turkey on behalf of an international coalition of legal organisations.
“Judges’ and prosecutors’ independence have been systematically undermined in Turkey since the failed coup in 2016,” Law Society president Simon Davis said.
“Hundreds of judges, prosecutors and lawyers have been arrested, detained and convicted on charges of terrorism without credible evidence.
“Lawyers have been identified with and punished for their clients’ causes. More than 1,500 lawyers have been prosecuted, hundreds of them in mass trials.
“Lawyers who can still practise report intimidation and threats.
“This menacing environment undermines the right of every citizen to legal representation and a fair trial, which may explain why Turkish citizens submitted more than 57,000 petitions to the European Court of Human Rights in 2017.
“But that court will only take on cases where every domestic remedy has been exhausted, and it does not yet recognise that Turkish citizens have no effective domestic remedy, so they are being sent back to the Turkish courts in their thousands.”
Turkey’s chilling roll call of injustice includes:
57,039 petitions to the ECtHR in 2017 from Turkish citizens, 25,000 of which rejected for failure to exhaust domestic remedies
4,260 judges and prosecutors dismissed
634 judges and prosecutors convicted on terrorism charges
1,546 lawyers prosecuted, 311 sentenced to a total of 1,967 years in prison
599 lawyers arrested and detained
“Turkey must protect the independence of lawyers, judges and prosecutors – in legislation and in practice – so that they can perform their professional duties without intimidation and improper interference,” Simon Davis said.
“The rule of law and the independence of the legal profession are essential foundations for political, social and economic stability.
“The Law Society and the international legal profession will continue to support our colleagues working in such difficult conditions and do whatever we can to help restore meaningful access to justice for all in Turkey.”
12 July 2019:
21 April 2019:
Lawyers Under Judiciary Pressure
As the Human Rights Association (İHD), we would like to state that we regard all lawyers, who especially deal with social problems and undertake defense activities by continuously taking sides with victims in Turkey, as human rights defenders.
This report does not cover the conditions of lawyers who were imprisoned because of their professional activities within the scope of investigations on the Fethullah Gülen organization as there is no sufficient information on the matter presently. We would like to point out that there are serious rights violations regarding this matter and many lawyers were subjected to rights violations.
The aim of this report is to demonstrate the effects of deteriorating judiciary pressure under the State of Emergency conditions on lawyers who are also rights defenders and to draw attention to the problem in this field. There surely are shortcomings in our report. Therefore, we would also like to express that we could always update our report in line with recommendations from lawyers following the publication of this report.
All lawyers, who have been subjected to investigations and prosecutions because of their professional activities, their activities as defense lawyers and human rights defenders, should be set free.
Those actors, who called forth lawyers to stand trial or attempted to intimidate lawyers through threats and pressures, should be pointed out by effective investigation methods and should be effectively prosecuted, and the policy of impunity in Turkey should be brought to an end.
All the prosecutions and the lawsuits launched within the scope of organizational activity among the law enforcement (police, military police, intelligence) and the judiciary should be readdressed and the plots should be unearthed.
The investigations and lawsuits against lawyers should be monitored and brought into view notably by the Union of Turkish Bar Associations and the international community; bar associations’ capacities should be enhanced.
A judiciary structure in line with the principle of rule of law should be implemented, confidence in justice should be reestablished in Turkey, specially authorised heavy penal courts and specially authorized prosecutors should be closed down.
The most significant problem in Turkey is the fact that the definition of terror is subjective. Turkey should redefine terrorism offences in line with the UN Security Council’s resolutions and should discontinue qualifying offences other than those stated in these resolutions as terrorism offences. A distinction should be made between those who resort to violence and who do not, and the penal legislation should be reorganized accordingly.
Notably the right of defense and everyone’s right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and protest, and association should be guaranteed as per international conventions.
Visits to Turkey by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and Independent Expert on Minority Issues should be rendered possible as soon as possible and the necessary changes that they may point out to in their reports should be implemented.
The State of Emergency should be lifted and remedy mechanisms should be established to the victims by rescinding the illegitimate Governmental Decrees.
Based on the fact that the profession of lawyer is a constituent element of the judiciary, the legislation on the restriction of the right of defense should be amended and legal guarantees should be restored for the profession of lawyers.
An urgent legislative regulation regarding the deferral and annulment of offences committed via the media and the related sentences alongside with the removal of their consequences until the fundamental regulations are implemented should be put into effect as there is gross victimization in Turkey because of the ban on and punishment of freedom of expression.
Pressures on Lawyers Report
Court Cases Against Lawyers
Human Rights Association
Legal Affairs Commission
6 March 2019:
Seven respected international organisations address a joint statement to the United Nation on the mass arrests of Turkish lawyers, judges & prosecutors
BY THE ARRESTED LAWYERS INITIATIVE on 6 MARCH 2018 • ( 1 )
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and seven co-sponsoring organisation -The Law Society of England and Wales, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) and Judges for Judges (J4J)- wrote a joint statement to highlight the ongoing challenges faced by the legal profession in Turkey.
In the joint statement, organisations raise concerns over the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment in the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey, the lack of effective investigations, and the on-going reports of torture. Organisations also share their concern over the widespread and systematic arbitrary arrest and detention of judges and lawyers in Turkey.
Full written statement as follows:
“The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and seven co-sponsoring organisations note the Special Rapporteur’s report on Turkey and call on the government of Turkey to ensure effective implementation of the recommendations. We share concerns raised about the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment in the aftermath of the attempted coup and the lack of effective investigations. We are deeply concerned by the gravity and number of reports of torture we continue to receive, such as the reports early this week of 80 persons tortured by the police at Mersin Provincial Security Directorate. Also of concern are the widespread and systematic arbitrary arrests and detentions of judges and lawyers in Turkey.
Reliable reports indicate that since July 2016:
At least 1525 lawyers have been prosecuted, 578 have been arrested and kept in pre-trial detention and 99 sentenced; and
More than 4400 judges and prosecutors have been investigated with more than 2400 put in pretrial detention.
These reports also indicate the use of torture, ill-treatment and excessive solitary confinement against legal professionals, which can be highlighted in the case of a senior judge held in solitary confinement for more than a year and a lawyer arrested with 17 colleagues who were allegedly tortured by prison officials. Finally, on 5 January 2017, the Prosecutor’s Office in Trabzon ruled that Decree Law No. 667 grants State officials immunity for any act committed within their duties under the state of emergency decrees, including acts of torture and ill-treatment. The prohibition on the use of torture and the duty of states to prevent and punish torture are non-derogable rights under international human rights law and, therefore, cannot be limited or suspended under any circumstance. We call on the Special Rapporteur to investigate and recommend remediation of the potential impunity for torture granted to State officials.
We invite Council to urge Turkey to:
Stop and remedy the arbitrary arrest, detention and wrongful prosecution of legal professionals; and
Prevent, investigate and punish the use of torture and ill-treatment by State officials.”