Joint submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers on the Legal Profession in Turkey

On 18 September 2018, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), in collaboration with the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the Law Society of England and Wales, presented a joint submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers on international law breaches concerning the independence of the legal profession in Turkey.

The submission highlights serious concerns regarding violations of the rights and protections of the legal profession and the rule of law in Turkey since 2010, as well as during and after the state of emergency put in place in July 2016.

Click here to read the joint submission

What is happening in Turkey?

The independence of the legal profession has been under threat for many years, and more so since the attempted coup d'état by a faction of the Turkish armed forces in July 2016.

Prior to the failed attempt, the Turkish government had been increasingly interfering with, and exercising undue influence over, the legal profession using adverse constitutional and legislative reforms together with systematic attacks against judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other legal professionals.

After the failed attempt to overthrow the Turkish government and unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a three-month state of emergency was announced. The state of emergency was extended multiple times, and finally ended in July 2018. Thousands of military officials, police officers, journalists, civil servants, academics, teachers, lawyers, judges and prosecutors have been dismissed and/or arrested for alleged links to terrorist organisations during this period.

Lawyers representing clients who are regarded by the Turkish government as terrorists, including those who have voiced opposition against law reforms and actions taken by the State prior and subsequent to the failed coup attempt, as well as those who conduct human rights advocacy, have been targeted and prosecuted for terrorism-related crimes.

To date, 4,279 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed. Five hundred and ninety lawyers have been arrested, 1,546 prosecuted and 181 convicted.

Click here to find out more about the IBAHRI’s work on Turkey.