Trial observation of the trial against the former president of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, Mehmet Emin Aktar
13 June 2024

Trial observation of the trial against the former president of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, Mehmet Emin Aktar

Türkiye

On 23 May, Lawyers for Lawyers attended a hearing at the 5th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, Turkey, in the trial against the former president of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, Mehmet Emin Aktar. Lawyers for Lawyers was represented by a staff member and a volunteer-lawyer of Amsterdam-based partner law firm Van Doorne. This mission was also attended by a French lawyer representing Défense Sans Frontières.

Mr Aktar is on trial for sharing a report on social media about irregularities during a search of his fellow lawyer Resul Temur’s office on 25 April 2023. He is being prosecuted for ‘knowingly targeting persons involved in counter-terrorism’ under Article 6(1) of the so-called ‘Anti-Terrorism Law’ by posting a photo of the hand-written search report of 25 April 2023 on Twitter, which includes the name of the public prosecutor. The charge states that the post allegedly revealed the identity of the prosecutor,  deliberately putting the person at risk of a terrorist attack. The offence carries a sentence of one to three years’ imprisonment.

Lawyers for Lawyers observed the hearing as local organisations raised concerns about the increased application of Article 6(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, with the aim to silence dissent. So far, prosecutions have targeted journalists and human rights activists, but now this controversial law also seems to be used against lawyers who speak out on human rights issues. People see this as another boundary crossed in the suppression of lawyers and their right to freedom of expression in Turkey, especially when it comes to such pertinent rule of law and human rights issues.

The hearing on 23 May 2024 was short-lived; after a plea by Mr Aktar’s lawyers, which included the presentation of a legal opinion by Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation on lawyers’ rights on the relevant provisions of the ECHR and ICCPR (including on freedom of expression in the context of counter-terrorism), the prosecutor requested more time to prepare his final opinion prior to sentencing. The case has been put on the roll for 28 June 2024.

Lawyers for Lawyers will continue to monitor the case closely.

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