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.
Human Rights Association
Legal Affairs Commission