Turkey’s terror list: An attack on lawyers and human rights
A coalition of organisations has expressed concern about the arbitrary designation of lawyer Günay Dağ as a terrorist in Turkey. Dağ, a lawyer at the International Bureau of the People’s Law Office and a member of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), was added to the Ministry of Interior’s official “list of wanted terrorists” on December 30, 2022. Despite never being convicted of a criminal act of terrorism, he is now being labelled as a “wanted terrorist” and member of a terrorist organisation.
The organisations fear that Dağ is being identified with his clients or his clients’ causes as a result of discharging his professional functions, in contravention of international and universal law and standards relating to the role of lawyers. The “list of wanted terrorists” which includes a total of 971 people accused of being members of 19 different alleged “terrorist organisations”, is solely based on the provisions of a regulation that offers rewards to those who expose terrorist crimes. This regulation does not provide any authorisation to the executive power to establish such a list, nor does it explain how the categories are to be determined or administered. The organisations also noted that Turkey’s list of “wanted terrorists” has become a tool for persecuting and prosecuting those who are considered to be political opponents to the government, with the list containing not only those accused of being directly involved with “terrorism”, but also the lawyers representing them.
Lastly, several legal actions have been initiated by State authorities in Turkey against lawyers that are in violation of the prohibition of identifying lawyers with their clients.
The listing has serious consequences for the person concerned who faces risks of imprisonment, stigmatisation, and other human rights violations. However, the list lacks a proper legal foundation, as there is no legal provision that regulates who can be included, how to remove individuals from the list, or how the authorities can establish or manage the list. This lack of legal provisions makes the creation and administration of the list arbitrary and violates the principles of legality.
Violation of the presumption of innocence, right to a fair trial and right to private and family life:
The listing authority lacks clear procedures for judicial review, despite the fact that listing necessarily results in a serious impairment of the exercise of the rights of those who have been listed. The designation of a person as a “terrorist” without due process or a fair trial violates the presumption of innocence, which is a right guaranteed by international treaties that Turkey has ratified, including the ICCPR and ECHR. The European Parliament has recently condemned Turkey’s disregard for fair trials in the context of the Kavala v. Turkey case. Furthermore, sharing personal information openly and illegally on the internet is a violation of the right to private and family life.
INTERPOL blocking Turkey’s list:
A Red Notice is an international request for law enforcement to locate and provisionally arrest a person until extradition or similar legal action occurs. INTERPOL publishes Red Notices at a member country’s request, provided they comply with INTERPOL’s Constitution and Rules. INTERPOL rejected most of Turkey’s requests based on their list due to a lack of convincing evidence and political motivation.
The organizations call on the Turkish authorities to:
- Stop identifying lawyers with their clients or causes they defend and to end their listing as “terrorists” without a fair trial or due process.
- Remove the lawyer Günay Dağ and all other lawyers from the “list of wanted terrorists”, as their inclusion on this list is based on their legitimate activities as lawyers.
- Take all necessary measures to protect lawyers in Turkey from intimidation, harassment, and reprisals in order to preserve the independence, integrity of the administration of justice and the rule of law.
Read the full statement here.
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