Trial monitoring is the practice of observing and gathering information on court hearings and procedures to assess their compliance with fair trial standards. Trial monitoring projects follow a cycle that includes the publication of a report containing recommendations aimed at enhancing the functioning of a country’s justice system. Advocacy represents the next stage of the trial-monitoring cycle, and aims at ensuring follow-up to the recommendations included in the report.
Since 2011, Lawyers for Lawyers has sent each year, several trial observation teams to Turkey to monitor hearings in cases where lawyers are on trial for reasons that are connected with exercising their legitimate professional duties.
We do this together with representatives from bar associations and lawyers organizations from various countries, including the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Norway.
Lawyers in Turkey are subject to arbitrary arrests, prosecution and detention. In many cases, the victims are lawyers who represent people who are considered ‘enemies of the state’, such as people who are accused under counter-terrorism laws, or who have been critical to the government’s policies or behaviour, including journalists and opposition leaders.
Through our presence we make the participants – particularly the court or judge and prosecutor – aware that they are under scrutiny of the international community and thereby encourage them to act, in the proceedings, according to fair trial standards.
At the same time, also the lawyers on trial felt morally supported by our presence. In a letter they wrote to us: “Knowing and seeing that you were there for us during the hearings strengthened our belief for law, justice and solidarity.”