The Bar Human Rights Committee has today written to the Turkish Constitutional Court, calling on them to urgently address the thousands of cases pending since Turkey’s abortive coup in July 2016.
Since the attempted coup, no cases have yet been heard or resolved. 80,000 cases are currently waiting to be considered by the court, with as many as 30,000 people held in detention.
In their letter to Prof. Zühtü Arslan, President of the Constitutional Court, BHRC argues that by not making any determinations in relation to these cases, defendants’ rights to an effective and timely remedy, under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, have been breached.
BHRC also raise concerns over freedom of expression, noting that many of those imprisoned are journalists; the letter specifically highlights the cases of Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Şahin Alpay, and Nazlı Ilıcak, as well as the editors Murat Sabancu (of Cumhuriyet), and İnan Kızılkaya (of Özgür Gündem).
BHRC Chairperson Kirsty Brimelow QC said:
“There appears to be a systemic failure of the courts in Turkey, representing a block to access to justice.. Fundamental rights to liberty are being violated.
The court will be aware of its responsibility to provide effective access to justice. The reasons as to why this are met, it is essential that cases filed with the court are considered and heard as soon as possible, in particular in relation to those who are held in custody awaiting charge or trial.
BHRC looks forward to hearing from the Constitutional Court on the steps it is taking to address this crisis in Turkey..
BHRC is acting partly in solidarity with the lawyers in detention but also in its capacity as lawyers seeking to uphold international human rights law around the world.”