Who we wrote to
The president of Turkey and the UN Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council
What’s the issue
On 12 March 2020, the following lawyers were arrested in Turkey:
- Gürgün Kadirhan from the Şırnak Bar Association
- Zeynep Işık and Özkan Avcı from the Diyarbakır Bar Association
- Hidayet Enmek, Sevda Özbingöl Çelik, Emrah Baran, Hüseyin Izol, Metin Özbadem, Cemo Tüysüz and Şeyhmus Inal from the Şanlıurfa Bar Association
The lawyers’ homes and offices were searched, and certain documents seized in relation to an investigation carried out by the prosecutor’s office in Urfa.
We received reports that these arrests may relate to the work these lawyers have carried out as part of their professional duties.
The documentation that was seized related to alleged acts of torture and ill-treatment by Turkish security forces against the lawyers’ clients and others in May 2019 in some districts of Sanliurfa province.
It’s also been reported that those detained and tortured in May 2019 could only meet with their lawyer supervised by security forces, or were not allowed access to legal counsel at all.
We’ve been informed that most of the lawyers were released on probation after six days in police custody, except for lawyer Sevda Özbingöl Çelik who was remanded into pre-trial detention by Urfa Criminal Peace Judgeship.
What we asked for
In light of Turkey’s international obligations to protect lawyers, we urged the authorities to:
- immediately and unconditionally release the lawyer Sevda Özbingöl Çelik from pre-trial detention unless credible evidence is presented that such detention is in line with international standards on pre-trial detention
- pending her release, ensure the physical and psychological well-being of the lawyer Sevda Özbingöl Çelik
- stop all acts of intimidation and harassment, including arbitrary arrest and detention, against the 10 lawyers mentioned in this letter as well as other members of the legal profession in Turkey