Coalition of lawyers write to the UN regarding judicial harassment in Turkey

Under the heading of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint letter has been written by a coalition of lawyers associations to Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva and Margaret Sekaggya, special rapporteurs on the independence of judges and on the situation of human rights defenders respectively, at the United Nations.

The letter urges them both to take action against the ongoing judicial harassment of lawyers and human rights defenders in Turkey, which has culminated in the trial of 36 lawyers representing Abdullah Ocalan in an ongoing KCK trial in Istanbul. Peace in Kurdistan has arranged for two delegates to join several others invited by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to observe the trial, and we shall bring you news of their reports and reflections on their return to the UK.

Below you can read the joint press release published also on the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) website, and we have also made the letter itself available to download (pdf).

Joint Press Release

Turkey: 18 rights and lawyers’ groups express concern to the UN as a trial against 46 lawyers under terrorism charges is due to open on July 16

16 July 2012

Amsterdam-Ankara-Brussels-Geneva-Grenoble-Montpellier-Ottawa-Paris-Rennes, July 13, 2012. 18 rights and lawyers’ groups express concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders as a trial under terrorism charges is due to open in Istanbul on July 16, 2012.

Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH/OMCT)

Human Rights Association (IHD) 

Union internationale des avocats (UIA) 

Conférence Internationale des Barreaux de Tradition Juridique Commune (CIB) 

European Democratic Lawyers (EDL / AED) 

Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) 

Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) 

Conseil National des Barreaux (CNB) 

Fédération Nationale des Unions de Jeunes Avocats (FNUJA) 

Syndicat des Avocats de France (SAF) 

Barreau de Grenoble 

Barreau de Montpellier 

Barreau de Paris 

Barreau de Rennes 

Institut des droits de l’Homme du Barreau de Grenoble 

Institut des Droits de l’Homme du Barreau de Montpellier 

Ordre français des Avocats du Barreau de Bruxelles

On July 16, 2012, a trial against 46 lawyers from the Ağrı, Ardahan, Batman, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Denizli, Hakkari, İstanbul, İzmir, Kars, Mersin, Muş, Siirt, Şırnak, Urfa, Van Bar Associations, together with one journalist and three staff working for a law firm, will open before the İstanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 6. 36 of the lawyers are in pre-trial detention since November 2011.

All of them have been involved in the legal representation of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and have been accused of “passing orders”. They are prosecuted under charges of being “members” or “executives” “in an illegal organisation”, namely the alleged terrorist network known as the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) – an organisation considered by the authorities to be the “urban branch” of PKK.

Similar trials are ongoing or pending against other key Kurdish or pro-Kurdish civil society actors, including political activists, members of human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trade unionists, journalists, intellectuals, academics and writers.

Yesterday, 18 rights and lawyers’ groups submitted a joint communication to the two UN special procedures to request them to closely monitor the situation and formulate clear recommendations to the Turkish authorities to ensure respect for fair trial standards and, more generally, a safe and conducive environment for human rights defenders operating in the country in conformity with their international and regional human rights treaty obligations and other international standards.

For further information, please contact:

• FIDH: Karine Appy / Arthur Manet: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

• OMCT: Isabelle Scherer: + 41 22 809 49 39

• UIA: Marie Pierre Lienard: +33 1 44 88 55 66

• IHD: S. Erdem Türközü: + 90 312 230 35 67-68-69

• Barreau de Paris: Amélie Guiraud: +33 1 44 32 48 14

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