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New violation of the rights to defence in Turkey. Worrying arbitrary arrests of advocates and defenders of human rights

Joint Press Release

Turkey:New violation of the rights to defence in Turkey. Worrying arbitrary arrests ofadvocates and defenders of human rights

Paris-Geneva-Brussels-Ankara, January 28, 2013. The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the InternationalFederation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT), the Union internationale des avocats (UIA), the ConférenceInternationale des Barreaux de Tradition Juridique Commune (CIB), HumanRights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği – İHD) and the Human RightsFoundation of Turkey (Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı - TİHV) express their deepest concerns following the recent wave of arreststargeting lawyers engaged in the representation of defendants in politicallysensitive cases or in the representation of victims or the families of victimsof serious human rights violations in Turkey.

On January 18, 2013, at 4 am,several lawyers were arrested in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Antalya, Hatay, Bursaand Kocaeli in the framework of an operation allegedly targeting members of theillegal Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front (DHKP-C). These lawyersbelong to the Progressive Lawyers Association (Cagdas Hukukçular Dernegi –ÇHD), one of the most important associations of lawyers engaged in the defenceof human rights, in particular the fight against police violence[1], as well as the Platformfor the freedom to defend[2]. This operation continuedon January, 21, some of the lawyers having travelled abroad, bringing the listof lawyers arrested to a total of 14[3].

ÇHD's headquarters as well as the law firm “People's Law Office” wouldhave been searched by the police without the presence of the Prosecutor incharge of the case and the representative of the Bar Association, in clearviolation of the applicable provisions under Turkish law. Mr. Efkan Bolaç,charged by the Bar Association to monitor police raids, was himself alsoarrested. During the searches, police seized and copied confidentialinformation held by the lawyers.

OnJanuary 21, 2013, several lawyers were referred to the Prosecutor accused ofbeing “members or leading members of an illegal organisation” in accordancewith Article 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Laws, for “transmitting instructions fromimprisoned leaders of illegal organisations”[4]. This new wave of arrestsis reminiscent of those that took place in November and December 2011, duringwhich 40 lawyers were remanded in custody in connection with an operation allegedlyaimed at dismantling the Kurdistan Communities Union (Koma Ciwaken Kurdistan- KCK) – an umbrella organisation said to be the “urban branch” of the armedKurdistan Workers Party (PKK) intended to organize the Kurdish people thatincludes the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Today, no fewer than 46 lawyersface lawsuits related to their participation in the defence of the leader ofthe Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan.

Several gatherings organized bylawyers to denounce the arrests were also repressed over the weekend.

Our organisations again denounce the recurrent attacks suffered byTurkish lawyers on the basis of anti-terrorism laws which are being abused. Weparticularly deplore the fact that they are systematically identified with theirclients or to the cause defended by their clients. Such assimilation violatesthe principles protecting the profession[5]. It also undermines therights to defence as enshrined in all international and regional instruments ofprotection and human rights ratified by Turkey[6].

Our organisations are equally alarmed by the consequences this may havefor the effective defence of both people prosecuted under terrorism charges aswell victims of human rights violations in general, because in such arepressive environment it is increasingly difficult to represent them.

Recalling the role of lawyers asagents in the administration of justice, our organisations call upon theTurkish authorities to guarantee all the procedural rights that should beaccorded to the lawyers arrested and to release them immediately if it appearsthat no charges could and should be held against them. Meanwhile, their safetyand integrity must be guaranteed.

Finally, we call on the authoritiesto put an end to all kinds of harassment against lawyers involved in thedefence of human rights, ensuring in all circumstances respect for human rightsand fundamental freedoms.

For further information,please contact:

FIDH: AudreyCouprie / Arthur Manet: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

OMCT: DelphineReculeau: + 41 22 809 49 39

UIA :Marie-Pierre Lienard : +33 1 44 88 55 61 /

RominaBossa-Abiven : +33 1 44 88 55 66 /

[1] Almost2,500 lawyers belong to this association.

[2] Theplatform was created in 2012 as a terrorism investigation targeted lawyers.

[3] Ninelawyers remain in custody: Mr. Selçuk Kozağaçlı, National President ofÇHD (Ankara Bar Association) ; Mr. Taylan Tanay, President of theIstanbul branch (Istanbul Bar Association) ; Mr. Güçlü Sevimli,member of the Istanbul branch (Istanbul Bar Association) ; Mr. NaciyeDemir, member (Istanbul Bar Association) ; Ms. Şükriye Erden,member (Istanbul Bar Association) ; Mr. Günay Dağ, member (IstanbulBar Association) ; Ms. Ebru Timtik, member (Istanbul Bar Association) ;Ms. Barkın Timtik, member (Istanbul Bar Association) ; Ms. NazanBetül Vangölü Kozağaçlı, member of the Ankara branch (Ankara BarAssociation).

Five lawyers were released: Mr. Efkan Bolaç, former President ofthe Istanbul branch and member (Istanbul Bar Association) ; Ms. GülvinAydın, member of the Istanbul branch (Istanbul Bar Association) ; Mr. SerhanArıkanoğlu, former President of the Istanbul branch (Istanbul BarAssociation) ; Mr. Zeki Rüzgar, member (Antalya Bar Association)and Mr. Güray Dag, member (Istanbul Bar Association).

Arrest warrants have been issued against other lawyers, including Ms. OyaAslan, member of the national bureau.

[4] Theprovisional detention order was dated January 20, though the decision was madepublic on January 21, 2013.

[5] Seein particular the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by theEighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment ofOffenders, held in Havana (Cuba) from 27 August to 7 September 1990.

[6] See inparticular Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights of 1966.

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