Veysel Ok given a 5-months suspended sentence
On 12 September 2019 lawyer Veysel Ok, co-founder of the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) and one of the lawyers shortlisted for the 2019 L4L-award, was given a 5-months suspended sentence by the Istanbul 2nd Penal Court for insulting the Turkish judiciary in a newspaper article in 2015. Journalist Cihan Acar, who wrote and published the interview, received the same sentence.
In the interview mr Ok criticized the Turkish judiciary and explained that judges and the judiciary were no longer impartial and independent. Although this statement is factually correct (see https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/turkey-needs-to-put-an-end-to-arbitrariness-in-the-judiciary-and-to-protect-human-rights-defenders) and shared by many, this did not prevent the prosecutors’ office to start a case against mr Ok for violating article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code.
During the court hearing on 12 September 2019 mr Ok said he still holds the same opinion and was only using his right as a lawyer to criticize the judiciary. Article 23 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers specifically stipulates that lawyers, like other citizens, are entitled to freedom of expression and have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights.
L4L condemns the sentencing of mr Ok, that is in violation of the Basic Principles and other international norms protecting freedom of expression and lawyers discharging their function, and is worried about the chilling effect it might have on them.
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