International Association of People's Lawyers

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  Dissent Special Issue - Defending Lawyers

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Letter to the Minister of Justice, Turkey

Re: Police raid on- and arrest of 9 lawyers

Your Excellency,

Lawyers for Lawyers is an independent and non-political Dutch foundation that seeks to promote the proper functioning of the rule of law by pursuing freedom and independence of the legal profession. Fair Trial Watch is an independent and non-political Dutch Foundation that promotes a fair trial for anybody around the world.

Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch express their deepest concern about the police raid on- and the arrest of 9 lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey.



According to our information, in the early morning of 16 March 2016, police raided the houses of 9 lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey. After the search, lawyers Ramazan Demir, İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğanand Mustafa Rüzgar were taken into custody. They are all members of the Libertarian Lawyers Association (ÖzgürlükcüHukukçular Derneĝi – ÖHD). Against one more lawyer an arrest warrant was ordered.

There has not been given any justification for these arrests and searches. The case file on the arrests is confidential. Allegedly the lawyers are arrested on suspicion of having ties with a terrorist organization.It seems that these lawyers suffer judicial harassment because they are identified with their clients or their clients’ causes.Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch therefore fear that the arrests of the 9 lawyers on 16 March serve solely to curb their legitimate activities as attorney.

All the lawyers that were arrested represent the 46 lawyers who were arrested in 2011 on suspicion of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organization”. A hearing in the trial against these lawyers took place only one day after the arrests, on 17 March 2016. The arrest of their lawyers meansthat they are deprived from their legal defense.

Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch are extremely worried about the state of the rule of law in Turkey, which is quickly deteriorating. We would draw your attention to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers1, more in particular Principles 16 and 18, which read:

16.Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference (…) and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

18. Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.

Lawyers play a fundamental role in the justice system and in defending the rule of law. It is crucial that they are able to carry out their professional duties freely and independently, without fear of being threatened, intimidated or arrested, and that the Turkish government does everything to ensure this.

In view of the above, Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch urge you to:

Immediately release lawyers Ramazan Demir, İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğanand Mustafa Rüzgarand drop the criminal investigation;
Abstain from identifying lawyers with their clients or their clients’ causes;
Put an end to all forms of harassment against lawyers in Turkey;
Guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals, intimidation, threats and free of all restrictions.
We respectfully request your response to our requests as soon as possible. We will continue to monitor this important matter closely.


Yours sincerely,

Adrie van de Streek
Executive director
On behalf of the President of Lawyers for Lawyers, Phon van den Biesen


Newal Çiftçi
Chairwoman Fair Trial Watch


Letters concerning the same topic were sent to:
- Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey


A copy of these letters was sent to:
Prof. Dr. Mónica Pinto, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
H.E. Mr. C. van Rij, Ambassador Netherlands Embassy in Ankara

[The letter can be downloaded here as PDF]

 

POST SCRIPT: 

21 Mar 16

Good news: All the nine lawyers who were arrested in Istanbul earlier this week, were released from pre-trial detention on Saturday 19 March 2016 by the decision of the interrogation judge. The lawyers will however still be prosecuted. L4L will continue to monitor the case closely.

In the early morning of 16 March, police raided the houses of 9 lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey. After the search, lawyers Ramazan Demir, İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğan and Mustafa Ruzgar were arrested. An arrest warrant was ordered against a tenth lawyer. They are all members of the Libertarian Lawyers Association (Ozgurlukcu Hukukcular Dernegi – OHD).

All lawyers that were arrested represent the 46 lawyers who were arrested in 2011 on suspicion of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organisation”.

L4L and Fair Trial Watchcalled on the Turkish authorities to immediately release the arrested lawyers.