Urgent Interventions

Türkiye: Arbitrary detention of human rights lawyer Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi

© Dima Rogachevskiy via Unsplash


TUR 002 / 0324 / OBS 012
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
March 22, 2024

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği – İHD), a member organisation of FIDH and OMCT, about the arbitrary detention of Ms Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi, a human rights lawyer and board member of the Antalya branch of İHD, where she has served in the legal and prison commissions. She is also a member of the Association of Progressive Lawyers (ÇHD).

On February 20, 2024, Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi was detained in the Manavgat district of Antalya, in an operation conducted in the framework of an investigation by the Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, on allegations of “being a member of an illegal armed organisation” (Article 314/2 of the Turkish Criminal Code). She was placed in custody and her home and office were searched. She was formally arrested on February 23, 2024, by the authorised Criminal Peace Court upon the request of Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, and sent to Antalya High Security Prison.

On March 20, 2024, Ms Çiftçi was transferred to the Izmir Şakran High Security Prison, where she was still arbitrarily held in pretrial detention at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal. This transfer about 500 kilometers away from her place of residence, her family and her lawyer appears as a punitive measure and could result in the violation of her right to a fair trial.

Upon her transfer to Antalya High Security Prison on February 23, 2024, police forces attempted to subject Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi to a strip search. Ms Çiftçi refused to be subjected to such a search, which was not executed.

The charge against Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi stems from her visit to Antalya High Security Prison on November 8, 2023, in her capacity as human rights lawyer for İHD Antalya. This visit was carried out following the request of the Antalya High Security Prison’s detainees, with the intention of documenting the human rights violations to which they were subjected. A note allegedly containing organisational content, such as instructions for prisoners and information about hunger strike protests currently being carried out in many prisons in Turkey, was reportedly found in the pocket of one prisoner and in the room of another prisoner during the search carried out in the prison after this visit. The prosecution claims that Ms Çiftçi brought this note to the prison.

Due to a confidentiality order placed on the investigation file, reviewing the case file remains impossible. An alleged "camera footage" cited as grounds for the arrest decision has not been presented to Ms Çiftçi’s attorneys. However, since March 11, 2024, information about the investigation file, has been leaked on X (ex-Twitter) and by pro-government media outlets, in violation of Article 157 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the confidentiality of investigations. Pro-government media also targeted the co-Chair of IHD, Hüseyin Küçükbalaban, due to his tweet in which he states that IHD will pursue legal action in relation to the attempted strip search.

The Observatory recalls that this arrest is part of a long-standing pattern of repression of İHD and ÇHD members, and more generally of repression of human rights defenders in Turkey.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi, which seems to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate work as a human rights lawyer, and urges the authorities in Turkey to immediately release her and put an end to all acts of harassment against her.

The Observatory further condemns the lack of access to the evidence in Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi’s case and urges the authorities in Turkey to grant her lawyers full access, as soon as possible, to all the case documents.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi, all members of İHD and ÇHD, as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi;
iii. Guarantee in all circumstances Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi’s rights to due process, fair trial, legal defence and access to evidence;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Şüheda Ronahi Çiftçi, İHD and ÇHD members and all human rights defenders in Turkey, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.


Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country.

Paris-Geneva, March 22, 2024

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: alert@observatoryfordefenders.org
• Tel FIDH: + 33 (1) 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39