Report: An Analysis of the Indictment against Lawyer Aryen Turan – PEN Norway
Lawyers for Lawyers has written a report for the PEN Norway Turkey Indictment Project. The report is titled “Legal Report on Indictment: Aryen Turan” and examines the flaws of the indictment issued against Turan in 2022 in light of Turkish domestic legislation and international human rights law. The report expresses grave concern for the guarantees of fairness and transparency of judicial proceedings in Turkey.
About Aryen Turan
The report analyses the indictment issued against Aryen Turan. Aryen Turan is a lawyer registered with the Izmir Bar Association and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the İzmir Branch of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom. Under her right to speak at the General Assembly of the İzmir Bar Association, Turan read a text to the Assembly on October 22nd and 23rd, 2022. In this text, she addressed issues concerning the judiciary, and the legal profession, and highlighted human rights violations in Turkey. Turan also made reference to reports on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in its transborder operations. Following her speech, a small group of lawyers protested against Turan primarily due to her call for an independent investigation into these allegations.
On November 3, 2022, Turan was detained by the İzmir Anti-Terror Branch Teams. Aryen Turan was not informed about the criminal charge against her, and neither Turan’s family nor her lawyers were notified about her detention. Despite the absence of a warrant for search and seizure, Turan’s cell phone was confiscated. The indictment against Turan accuses her of aiding and abetting the PKK/KCK, referring, inter alia, to anti-terrorism legislation.
Analysis and Findings of the Report
The report focuses on the indictment rather than the conviction and highlights several shortcomings in its quality. It recommends steps that can be taken to improve the quality and urges the judicial authorities of Turkey to adopt the application of international law to which Turkey is a party as a priority principle, regardless of the nature of the case before them.
The report points out that the indictment lacks a clear and concise summary of the facts for which Turan is accused. The report says:
“[T]he statements of Aryen Turan for which she was prosecuted are statements of fact of a very general nature, based on widely reported facts that are available to anyone, of which the truth can be easily verified.”
Furthermore, the indictment lacks sufficient legal or factual grounds to prove that Aryen Turan has committed the alleged crime. Moreover, due to the poor organization and content of the indictment, it fails to fulfill its basic purpose: to provide the suspects with an understanding of the accusation, the legal basis, and the relevant evidence that supports it. The report continues by affirming that the statements Aryen Turan made are fully covered by the freedom of expression as protected by Article 10(1) of the ECHR. Therefore, the present indictment violates the freedom of expression outlined in Article 10 of the ECHR and is contrary to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (Principles 16-18, 23 and 24). Moreover, the report finds that Aryen Turan’s rights under Article 6 ECHR (Right to a Fair Trial) were violated by the authorities.
The analysis in the report concludes by stating that:
“the criminal charges brought against Aryen Turan fail to comply with Turkey’s obligations under international and European human rights law, in particular the right to freedom of expression. As such, the charges constitute an unlawful restriction on the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the ECHR. Also, this indictment and the procedure violate Articles 6 and 18 of the ECHR (and) contravenes the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. In light of all these considerations, the most fundamental recommendation that can be given to the judicial authorities of Turkey would be to adopt the application of international law to which Turkey is a party as a priority principle, regardless of the characteristic of the case before them.”
About the PEN Norway Turkey Indictment Project
PEN Norway has conducted studies over the last six years, focusing on cases related to journalists and civil society in Turkey. This involves a meticulous examination of the foundational document in each case: the indictment. Since January 2020, in collaboration with an international team comprising judges, lawyers, and scholars, PEN Norway has been scrutinizing indictments in significant media and civil society cases, including those of the Cumhuriyet, Büyükada and Gezi Park trials. Each report is dedicated to the analysis of one indictment.
By the end of 2021, a group of legal and human rights experts from six countries will have assessed 22 indictments for compliance with local and international regulations. The objective is to provide a tangible ground for discussions concerning the rule of law crisis in Turkey. Furthermore, this initiative seeks to foster and support dialogues aimed at improving the standards and implementing training programs in indictment writing for Turkey’s prosecutors and judges.
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