International Fair Trial Day 2023 and call for nominations for the Ebru Timtik Award
The right to a fair trial has long been recognised by the international community as a fundamental human right. Without a fair trial, every individual risks becoming the victim of a miscarriage of justice, either as an innocent suspect wrongly convicted, or as a victim unable to secure justice for a wrong perpetrated against him or her.
In 2021, a group of lawyers and lawyers’ organisations came together to establish an annual International Fair Trial Day (IFTD) to be observed every year on 14 June. This initiative is supported by more than 100 legal associations across the world, all of which are committed to the vital importance of the right to a fair trial and the serious challenges to due process rights worldwide. They established a Steering Group for the organization of IFTD.
The decision to establish an IFTD was also accompanied by the establishment of the Ebru Timtik Award. Ebru Timtik is a lawyer from Turkey who lost her life on 27 August 2020 as a result of a 238-day hunger strike she undertook to protest against the systemic violations of fair trial rights which people in Turkey are facing. Every year, on the occasion of the IFTD, the Ebru Timtik Award is made by an independent jury to an individual or individuals and/or an organisation who have or which has made a significant contribution to the defence and promotion of the right to a fair trial in the focus country.
2023 International Fair Trial Day Focus Country: Mexico
The IFTD conference will be held on 14 June 2023 in Mexico and will be co-hosted by Mexico-based organisations. Further details of the agenda and the speakers who will participate in the conference will follow over the next few months. For now, we invite you to hold the date.
This decision is based on the following:
1. Reports on the situation in Mexico illustrate that many parts of the judicial system in the country suffer from systemic corruption, lack of effective protection of due process rights, ineffective and delayed investigations and trials, discrimination, and improper government influence.
2. While Mexico is overall defined as a partially free country in the Freedom House Freedom in the World Report (with a 60/100 ranking), rule of law-related factors in the assessment downgrade Mexico’s ranking.
3. Enforced disappearances and summary executions remain one of the most important human rights issues in the country, with the state institutions consistently failing to find an effective solution. In 2021 alone, at least 7,698 missing or disappeared person cases were reported, bringing the total number since 1964 to more than 100,000 people.
4. Mexico is rated as one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders working on organized crimes, corruption, and crimes by state agents.6 They are targeted, face attacks, and, in some cases, are killed, abducted, and tortured for their legitimate human rights activities by members of organized groups or state agents.
5. Arbitrary, prolonged, and unlawful pretrial detention, in many cases without any charges, is a further systemic issue in the Mexican justice system. Ordering pretrial detention is an obligation for the judicial authorities for those charged with several crimes without any regard to the evidence or circumstances of the case file.
6. In an October 2021 filing of an application to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights underlined some of these systemic issues, particularly those related to the use of detention, torture, and ill-treatment within Mexico’s criminal justice system, and recommended that Mexico:
- ‘Adapt the country’s legal system to permanently eliminate the concept of arraigo, including the constitutional and legal norms that uphold this practice. While this is being implemented, ensure that all judicial operators who are called upon to apply the concept of arraigo cease to do so by invoking conventionality control, in light of the corresponding inter-American standards.
- Provide appropriate training for officials working at the Office of the Deputy Attorney General of Tlalnepantla concerning the absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment during investigations of all crimes, including those that relate to organized crime, and implement a simple, easily accessible system for reporting any such acts.’
7. Similarly, in a September 2022 statement, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Mexico to urgently abolish mandatory pre-trial detention provided under the Constitution.
8. In a judgment published in January 2023, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights also condemned the pre-procedural arraigo as well as the pretrial detention regulated in the 1999 Federal Code of Criminal Procedure, contrary to the American Convention on Human Rights.
Against this dire background, the Organising Committee of the IFTD agreed that focusing on Mexico in 2023 will help draw more attention to the systemic fair trial violations in the country. It will provide support to many human rights defenders, including lawyers and journalists, and judges who are still being targeted for their legitimate activities, who are arbitrarily prosecuted, detained, and who face trials severely lacking in due process and failing to respect fair trial principles.
Call for nominations for the Ebru Timtik Award
The Organising Committee of the IFTD would like to also invite you to nominate one or more individual(s) or an organisation for the Ebru Timtik Award from amongst those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment and sacrifice in upholding fundamental values related to the right to a fair trial in Mexico. The individual(s) or organisation nominated for the award must be or have been active in defending and or promoting the right to a fair trial in Mexico through either his/her/their/its recent outstanding piece of work in relation to this fundamental right or his/her/their/its distinguished long-term involvement in fair trial issues. The deadline for nominations is 2 May 2023. To nominate, please send your nominations to email@example.com in English and kindly include:
(1) the candidate’s detailed bio,
(2) a letter signed by the nominating organisation/group of individuals explaining the reasons why they/it consider(s) that the candidate should be granted the Award, and
(3) one recommendation/supporting letter from an unrelated, external organisation, if the application is submitted by a group of individuals.
For the details of the award criteria and process please see the attached “Selection criteria for the grant of the Ebru Timtik Fair Trial Award”. After the deadline, a jury composed of independent individuals who are experienced with the right to a fair trial, including one or more from the focus country, will review and assess the nominations and determine the award recipient(s).
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