The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) has issued a formal statement expressing grave concern over the arrest of judges and prosecutors, torture allegations and reported considerations of the death penalty in Turkey, following the recent failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In their statement, BHRC condemns the arrests as an attempt to purge judges willing to criticise President Erdogan, rather than a necessary or proportionate response to security threats. They also express serious concern over reports that pro-Erdogan forces have been involved in torture, and in discussions around potentially reinstating the death penalty.
BHRC provides a detailed overview of Turkey’s domestic and international obligations to uphold the rule of law, and calls on the government to take urgent action to prevent further human rights abuses.
This includes immediately releasing and reinstating all judges and prosecutors who have been arrested without evidence, ensuring a fair trial in any cases where sustainable evidence of criminal activity exists, and providing effective legal remedy for those whose rights have been abused.
Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chairwoman of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales said:
“Turkey’s actions in rounding up Judiciary and Prosecutors, at a speed which gives the lie to any conceivable grounds for such action, undermines the independence of the Judiciary and strikes at the rule of law.
Reports of torture and support for the death penalty are in breach of Turkey’s international law obligations. BHRC calls on the Turkish Government to respect its own justice system, and avoid joining a race to the bottom in competition with the failed coup.”
(Image credit: Gokhan Tan/Getty Images via NPR)