New findings show blatant disregard for international human rights in Turkey

The Law Society of England and Wales is gravely concerned about the violation of human rights in Turkey, as the government continues to mistreat lawyers and human rights defenders.

This warning comes as the Law Society publishes a new report with a delegation of 26 other legal and human rights organisations to detail the conclusions of a fact-finding mission to Turkey.*

In November, the delegation visited eight lawyers in prison to gather first-hand information on their current status, including the context of their arrests and their treatment in detention.

The fact-finding mission revealed that the Turkish government has used overly broad anti-terror law to arbitrarily arrest and detain lawyers. Almost every lawyer the delegation visited in prison was arrested on terrorism charges for taking on human rights cases. They were convicted and sentenced after being deprived the right to due process and fair trial.

Lawyers in detention are also subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and are often held in small group isolation with limited contact with other individuals or the outside world. They also face frequent and arbitrary disciplinary measures, preventing them from being eligible to apply for conditional early release.

The delegation concludes that the condition of these lawyers violates Turkey’s commitment to international standards of human rights.

Law Society vice president Richard Atkinson said: “There is a worrying pattern of human rights violations in Turkey. Our findings conclude that the treatment of lawyers in Turkey demonstrates a blatant disregard for international norms.

“By prohibiting lawyers from fulfilling their professional duties, the Turkish government seeks to dismantle the rule of law and access to justice.

“This is a blatant violation of Turkey’s obligation to uphold international human rights. We demand the immediate release of the eight lawyers we visited in detention. We also urge the Turkish government to respect the independence of the legal profession and halt any further acts of interference.

“The condition of lawyers in Turkey is of grave concern. We stand in solidarity with lawyers under attack and will continue to monitor the situation in Turkey.”

Notes to editors

  • * Report of an Independent International Fact-Finding Mission to Turkey
  • The Law Society joined a delegation of 27 bar associations, human rights organisations, law societies and legal groups representing eight countries to investigate the treatment of lawyers in Turkey. The delegation visited Turkey between 6 and 9 November 2023. A list of delegation members can be found in the report.

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