Dismissal of judges and prosecutors in Turkey

Who we wrote to

The president of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

We co-wrote this letter with the:

  • Bar Council of England and Wales
  • Law Society of Scotland
  • Faculty of Advocates of Scotland
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland
  • Bar of Northern Ireland
  • Law Society of Ireland
  • Council of the Bar of Ireland

What’s the issue

On February 2017, 227 judges and prosecutors were dismissed by the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors as part of investigations into the failed coup that took place in July 2016.

We previously expressed our concern following the dismissal of 2,745 judges in the aftermath of the coup attempt in our letter of 22 July 2016.

We understand that approximately 4,000 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed since July 2016.

Many lawyers have been arrested and detained under certain decree laws, issued after the failed coup, that allow for extended periods of pre-trial detention.

We understand that some lawyers have been held in detention incommunicado and that legal professional privilege has been violated, because lawyers have not been able to communicate with their clients in private.

We’re also alarmed about the arrest of Judge Aydin Sefa Akay on 21 September 2016. He’s remained in detention since his arrest.

The most recent dismissal of 227 judges and prosecutors, as well as the continued detention of Judge Akay, are developments that represent a worrying erosion of the principle of the separation of powers.

We’re concerned about the negative effect that this has on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Turkey.

What we asked for

We urged the relevant authorities to respect the separation of powers and the rule of law in Turkey, and to:

  • reinstate the judges who were dismissed, pending investigations into their alleged involvement in the coup attempt
  • follow international standards regarding the suspension, reassignment and removal of judges in any disciplinary or other proceedings brought
  • respect the independence of the judiciary and to ensure that other members of the legal profession, such as prosecutors and lawyers, can carry out their professional duties without hinderance and improper interference
  • adopt the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission, and the European Commission regarding the rule of law and judicial independence in Turkey
  • cease all legal proceedings against Judge Akay and take all necessary measures to ensure his release from detention, so that he can resume his judicial functions in the Ngirabatware case, and any other domestic or international proceedings