UK and international lawyers call for urgent action from Turkey on Lawyers’ Day

4 April 2018

National and international legal bodies have today sent an open letter to Turkish authorities, voicing their concern over the rising tide of human rights violations against lawyers and threats to the legal profession in Turkey. 

The Bar Council of England and Wales, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC), the International Association of Lawyers (UIA), the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the Law Society of England and Wales collectively made the statement in conjunction with Turkey's Lawyers' Day on 5 April.

The organisations found concern with reports that at least 580 lawyers have been arrested, 1,539 prosecuted, and 103 sentenced to long-term imprisonment. As key examples, the letter highlighted the plight of two individuals: Kemal Uçar, a lawyer who was recently arrested while representing soldiers accused of involvement in the attempted coup, and Taner Kılıç, chair of Amnesty International in Turkey, who has been detained for almost a year.

The Bar Council, BHRC, UIA, IBAHRI and the Law Society called upon the Turkish government to: 

  • Stop the arbitrary arrest, detention and wrongful prosecution of lawyers;

  • Reinstate those wrongly detained, prosecuted and dismissed from their posts;

  • Prevent, investigate and punish the use of torture and ill-treatment by State officials:

  • Lift the 'State of Emergency' and reinstate the constitutional guarantees of the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to a fair trial, and due process

  • Ensure and safeguard the independence of the legal profession.

Andrew Walker QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said: "The independence of the legal profession is a cornerstone of the rule of law and effective access to justice. The continued detention, prosecution and dismissal of legal professionals in Turkey constitutes a serious threat to the individuals concerned, to their clients and to the rule of law itself.  Lawyers' ability freely to act for, and to defend the rights of, their clients is fundamental. This state of affairs cannot be ignored by those of us who play a role in protecting the independence of lawyers and the rule of law internationally. The Bar Council stands steadfastly alongside fellow lawyers' associations in imploring the Turkish authorities to bring an end to these injustices." 


Notes to editors

The letter can be found here  

The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board. 

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