“A Profession on Trial”: IBAHRI and TALI release report documenting mass imprisonment of lawyers in Turkey

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and The Arrested Lawyers Initiative (TALI) have released a detailed report highlighting the declining independence of the legal profession and bar associations in Turkey. The report is titled "A Profession on Trial: The Systematic Crackdown Against Lawyers in Turkey."

The report underscores the targeting of Turkish law professionals through unfair trials, arbitrary detainment, imprisonment and harassment, as well as the alarming misuse of counter-terrorism legislation to prosecute lawyers in the course of their legitimate work.

According to the report, in 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have been detained, prosecuted and convicted following the 2016 coup attempt, particularly on the basis of vague and broad anti-terror offences. The authors of the report emphasize that these charges are often combined with the misidentification of lawyers with their clients.

More than 1,700 Turkish lawyers have been prosecuted, with 700 lawyers remanded to pretrial detention. Thus far, at least 553 lawyers have been sentenced to a total of 3,380 years in prison, the report states. This abuse of the law has led to a multitude of case rulings against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights. It is separately noted that due to increased government interference in the functioning of bar associations, more than 34 lawyers’ associations have closed over the last seven years.

The IBAHRI and TALI are gravely concerned about the pervasive abuse of Turkey's anti-terrorism legislation, which has breached established international safeguards, such as the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. Human rights defenders call on Turkish authorities to guarantee the independence of Turkey’s judiciary and legal profession and to amend domestic anti-terror laws to ensure that they are in line with regional and international principles.

The report can be accessed through this link.

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