Law Society, IBAHRI and BHRC advocate on behalf of Turkish lawyers

On 18-27 June 2018, during the UN 38th Human Rights Council session in Geneva, the Law Society, the IBA’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), and the Bar Human Rights Committee collaborated on a series of actions to highlight the situation of the legal profession in Turkey. 

Over three days the Law Society and IBAHRI trained six Turkish lawyers on human rights advocacy and on the role of regional mechanisms for access to remedies, using the UN human rights framework and regional and national institutions.

The role of the European Court of Human Rights, in reviewing Turkish cases, was also discussed to assess the different avenues available to Turkish lawyers.

The training concluded with the drafting of an advocacy factsheet (attached), which provides detailed information on the situation faced by the legal profession in Turkey, and the number of decrees adopted that violate human rights standards. 

The Law Society also shared the joint report entitled “(In)Effective Remedies from Strasbourg“, which is the outcome of a conference that took place in March 2018 in Berlin and was co-organised with the DAV, ELDH, Lawyers for Lawyers and the Observatoire International des Avocats. 

On 21 June, the Law Society, IBAHRI and the Bar Human Rights Committee co-hosted a UN side event at the Palais des Nations entitled “State of Emergency and attacks to the legal profession in Turkey” to highlight the challenges that the current state of emergency poses to lawyers and other legal professionals. A group of legal experts from various organisations, provided a vast array of insights on the topic: 

  • Özlem Zingil, a Turkish lawyer, presented her experiences and examples of the obstacles faced by lawyers in Turkey in attempting to perform their legitimate professional duties. 
  • Massimo Frigo, senior legal dviser of the ICJ, discussed the impact of the state of emergency on the rule of law and Turkey’s derogations from its international human rights obligations.
  • Tony Fisher, chair of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee, spoke about the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to cases involving Turkey. 
  • Stephen Cragg QC provided insights on the use of trial observation as a tool for advocacy in Turkish cases. 
  • Natacha Bracq, programme lawyer for the IBAHRI, chaired this side event, which was co-sponsored by Lawyers for Lawyers, the Union Internationale des Avocats and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.  

On 25 June, the Law Society coordinated a joint oral statement on Turkey that was co-signed by five other organisations, including the IBAHRI, the Bar Human Rights Committee, Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and the Union Internationale des Avocats. The statement was read before the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, which also touched upon the recent challenges to judicial independence in Poland. 

A series of bilateral meetings were also set up throughout the week, which included the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, UPR-Info, Trial, and various diplomatic missions. 

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