Universal periodic review on Turkey to the UN Human Rights Council

Together with 13 other bar associations and organisations focusing on the legal profession, we submitted a report for the universal periodic review of Turkey to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The report gathers evidence on the situation of lawyers, judges and prosecutors in Turkey since the end of 2015. It documents an increase in the number of arrests, detention, and conviction of lawyers, judges and prosecutors. Many of them are convicted and sentenced under broadly worded offences included in anti-terrorism legislation.

Lawyers are also hindered in carrying out their professional activities, for example through:

  • lack of access to the case file and indictments
  • lack of access to their clients
  • violations of professional confidentiality between lawyers and their clients
  • the accused not being able to have access to a legal representative of their own choice

The report also documents the erosion of judicial and prosecutorial independence through amendments to the structure of the body overseeing appointments and disciplinary proceedings, with increased influence of the executive.

The systematic undermining of the legal system by the government, especially since the failed coup in 2016, restricts access to justice for all citizens in Turkey. This is exacerbated by the lack of redress for human rights violations at the international level.

The European Court of Human Rights still finds applications from Turkey inadmissible for lack of exhaustion of domestic remedies, even in the absence of an independently functioning judicial system.

The report makes recommendations on amendments to domestic legislation (especially criminal law and anti-terrorism legislation), on ensuring judicial and prosecutorial independence, and respecting the independence of the legal profession.

We submitted this report on behalf of an international coalition of legal organisations:

  • The Law Society of England & Wales
  • International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
  • Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales
  • Conseil National des Barreaux
  • European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights
  • Lawyers for Lawyers; Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
  • Norwegian Bar Association, Human Rights Committee
  • International Observatory of Endangered Lawyers
  • Paris Bar Human Rights Institute
  • German Bar Association, Human Rights Committee
  • Geneva Bar Association, Human Rights Commission
  • Abogacía Española – Consejo General
  • UIA – International Association of Lawyers

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