Report: Legal Report on Indictment – Veysel Ok
Lawyers for Lawyers has authored a report for the PEN Norway Turkey Indictment Project. The report is titled “Legal Report on Indictment: Veysel Ok” and investigates and reflects upon the flaws of the 2016 indictment issued against the lawyer Veysel Ok in light of Turkish domestic legislation and international human rights laws and herewith shows serious concern for the guarantees of fairness and transparency of judicial proceedings in Turkey.
About Veysel Ok
On the 11th of August 2016, Veysel Ok was indicted and accused of insulting the judiciary of Turkey, as criminalized under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), based upon a statement given by Veysel Ok in an interview. In this interview, he criticized the judiciary and underlined the importance of free speech and the independence of the judiciary. However, this critique was conceived as an insult and consequently he was convicted by the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance to a suspended sentence of five months imprisonment.
Analysis and findings of the report
The report focusses on the indictment rather than the conviction and highlights several shortcomings of the quality of the indictment, recommends steps that can be taken to improve the quality, and urges the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Turkey to abolish or review the wording of Article 301 TCK.
The report clearly points out that the indictment is poorly written and states: “Unlike many other indictments in freedom of speech cases in Turkey, this indictment is rather short. Nevertheless, the indictment is difficult to comprehend. It is poorly written and does not fulfil the basic purpose of an indictment, namely to give the defendant an understanding of the accusation, the legal basis and the relevant evidence that supports it.”
The analysis in the report is concluded by calling for the abolishment of Article 301 of the TCK: “In conclusion, the flaws in the indictment of Veysel Ok cause serious concern for the guarantees of fairness and transparency of judicial proceedings in Turkey, as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. We therefore urge the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Turkey to take our recommendations into consideration, not only by abolishing or reviewing the wording of Article 301 TCK, which is to be targeted strictly against clear and imminent threats to national security, but also by training public prosecutors about the conditions set out in Article 170 CMK.”
Click here to read the report.
About the PEN Norway Turkey Indictment Project
At PEN Norway is studying journalist and civil society-related cases from the last six years in Turkey by examining the foundation document of the case: the indictment. Since January 2020, with an international team of judges, lawyers and scholars PEN Norway has been examining indictments in prominent media and civil society cases, including Cumhuriyet, Büyükada and the Gezi Park trials. Each report focuses on one indictment. A group of legal and human rights experts from six different countries will have assessed 22 indictments’ compliance with local regulations and international standards by the end of 2021. The objective is to provide a tangible ground for discussions concerning the crisis of rule of law in Turkey and support dialogues that aim to improve the standards and put in place training in indictment-writing for Turkey’s prosecutors and judges.
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