IBAHRI condemns mass removal of judges following attempted coup in Turkey

Wednesday 20 July 2016

The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) is extremely concerned by the sudden dismissal of more than 2,500 judges and prosecutors in Turkey, following an attempted coup d'état in the country on Friday 15 July. The IBAHRI calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations, avoid undue mass targeting of state institutions such as the judiciary, and ensure that a transparent investigation is carried out to identify those responsible for instigating the military coup.

Following the attempt to overthrow the government, the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) reportedly held an emergency meeting on Saturday 16 July, during which it made the decision to remove more than 2,500 judges just a few hours after the coup attempt had failed. Subsequently, several of these judges, including members of the HYSK, were reportedly arrested and charged under offences listed in the 15th section of the Turkish Penal Code: 'Offenses against Constitutional Order and Operation of Constitutional Rules.'

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Ambassador (ret) Hans Corell stated, 'The speed with which the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors was able to identify such a large number of judges supposedly linked to the coup attempt is extremely concerning to the IBAHRI. The HYSK should refrain from suspending and arresting judges until an independent and transparent investigation has taken place to establish whether there is a concrete link between individual judges and those responsible for the failed putsch. This sort of blanket dismissal is in direct conflict with Turkey's Constitutional protection for judges' security of tenure and against unfair dismissal. It also disregards international legal standards, such as the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, which provide that all decisions related to judicial suspension and dismissal should be the result of a fair hearing and be subject to an independent review.'

Many questions are being asked about the nature of the arrest warrants, how they were arranged with such alacrity and whether checks and balances are being undermined with regard to the rule of law.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC commented, 'At a time of political instability, such as Turkey is currently experiencing, it is essential that the institutions that safeguard human rights and democracy are upheld. Protecting the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is crucial to ensuring the protection of Turkish citizens. We call on the Turkish government to meet its obligations to refrain from arbitrary arrests and detentions of judges and respect fair trial rights in order to protect the independence of the judiciary and uphold the rule of law.'

Notes to the Editor

  1. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world's leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA's administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association's International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

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