Five professional associations, including the Law Society, have stepped up international pressure over what they say is the arbitrary arrest, detention and wrongful prosecution of lawyers in Turkey. In an open letter to the Turkish president, they call attention to reports that at least 580 lawyers have been arrested, 1,539 prosecuted, and 103 sentenced to prison terms of up to 11 years since the attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016.
Those detained include lawyers representing people accused of taking part in the coup attempt – and even lawyers representing their detained colleagues. The letter points out that under international law, lawyers are entitled to carry out their work without being associated with their clients or clients’ cause.
Tony Fisher, chair of the Law Society’s human rights committee, said: ‘Many of the arrested and detained lawyers appear to have been targeted because they are acting for others who are themselves being prosecuted. This targeting of lawyers is a fundamental breach of Turkey’s international obligations.’
The Bar Council, the Bar Human Rights Committee, the International Association of Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute have also signed the letter.