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The Bar Human Rights Committee has today published a new Trial Observation Report, focusing on the prosecution of 46 people in Turkey accused of membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or Koma Civaken Kurdistan (KCK).

43 of the 46 defendants are lawyers, whose prosecutions are suspected to be politically motivated: many appear to have been arrested simply for representing defendant lawyers in other cases brought by the Turkish state.

The report, written by BHRC member Bronwen Jones, focuses on a bail hearing held in Istanbul on 17 March 2016. It details a number of apparent breaches of international law committed by Turkey, including:

  • Breaches of international fair trial obligations, specifically the European Convention on Human Rights and UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers
  • Unlawful association by the Turkish authorities of lawyers acting in politically sensitive cases with the aims and objectives of their clients
  • Improper use by the prosecution of intercept evidence, including the use of legally privileged conversations between defence lawyers and their clients
  • A lack of due process, with repeated adjournments meaning that some defendants have been held in pre-trial detention for more than 5 years.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chairwoman of BHRC, said:

“In prosecuting lawyers for the alleged behaviours and beliefs of their clients, Turkey has undermined one of the most fundamental tenets of the law: that lawyers must be free to practice independently and without fear of persecution.

The Bar Human Rights Committee remains gravely concerned that this trial will end with numerous unsafe convictions.

We call on Turkey to immediately release on bail all of the 43 lawyers currently detained, and to drop charges against those who have been prosecuted simply for representing their clients”.

Read the full BHRC Trial Observation Report here

(Image credit: The Law Society)