Joint UPR submission Turkey
In July 2019, Lawyers for Lawyers together with an international coalition of legal organisations submitted a report for the Universal Periodic Review of Turkey. The review will take place in January/February 2020.
In the report the coalition highlights that the Turkish authorities do not always uphold the necessary guarantees for the proper and independent functioning of the legal profession, including the judiciary, the right to a fair trial and the rule of law. The report focusses on the following issues regarding lawyers:
(i) Interference with Lawyers’ Professional Duties.
Prior to the state of emergency, lawyers were already hindered in carrying out their professional activities and this interference has subsequently increased, for example through: lack of access to case files, including indictments; restrictions on access to clients; and breaches of professional confidentiality between lawyers and their clients. There have also been reports of lawyers, arrested in Turkey after the failed coup, who have been made to testify against their clients, violating the principle of lawyer client confidentiality and making it impossible for them to continue to act as their legal representatives.
(ii) Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, and Prosecution of Lawyers, and Closure of Bar Associations.
Since the failed coup, approximately 599 lawyers have been arrested and detained (pre-trial detention), 1546 lawyers prosecuted, and 311 lawyers convicted and sentenced to a total of 1,967 years in prison.
Lawyers’ representation of certain clients, visiting them in prison, making statements to the press, tweeting about ECtHR cases, contacting international organisations, and criticising state practices have all been used as a basis for convicting lawyers. The identification of lawyers with their clients and clients’ causes, as noted in the OHCHR’s report on Turkey, is contrary to Principle 18 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Since the failed coup, Bar Associations in Turkey have also been targeted through: direct interference with their independence, interference with admissions to the Bar, persecution of presidents and board members of Bar Associations and persecution of members of Bar Associations.
Read the full report here
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