The already dire position of independent lawyers in Turkey is deteriorating with continuing persecution including arbitrary arrests and prosecutions, three legal professional bodies tell the UN's human rights body today.

In a joint submission to Diego Garcia-Sayan, UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Law Society, the Bar Human Rights Committee and the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute outline human rights violations which have occurred and are occurring since the attempted coup d’état in July 2016. 

According to the submission, new laws give a statutory framework to pre-existing threats to the independence of the legal profession, including arbitrary arrest and detention, dismissals, and breaches of the right to a fair trial and due process. 'Legal professionals are being targeted with allegations of supporting a terrorist organisation. The evidence points to these allegations as being a strategy to stop the legitimate exercise of their professional duties, including human rights related work.'

The associations request the rapporteur to seek guarantees from the government of Turkey including statements on the independence  fo the judiciary and prosecution services in accordance with UN principles, and to ensure that lawyers can perform their professional functions in accordance with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. 

Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: 'Draconian measures introduced during the state of emergency in Turkey have now been incorporated into the country’s permanent legal framework, expanding the powers of the president and restricting access to justice for ordinary citizens.

'The rule of law and a legal profession independent of government are cornerstones of a healthy democracy in which citizens have access to justice, power can be held to account and lawyers can practise without hindrance or intimidation,' Blacklaws said.