International protests against the Turkish government’s treatment of lawyers acting for detained human rights defenders have been scaled up with a call for action to five special rapporteurs of the United Nations.  

Two lawyers, Ayşe Acinikli and Ramazan Demir, have been held in pre-trial detention since 6 April. Their arrest took place as part of a series of actions carried out by the Turkish state against lawyers and other human rights defenders for allegedly supporting the proscribed separatist group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The chair of the Law Society Human Rights Committee joined the chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee and eight other international legal bodies to call for the UN to urge the Turkish authorities to withdraw all charges against the two lawyers, to release them with immediate effect, and allow lawyers and human rights defenders in Turkey to perform their professional duties without intimidation and improper interference.

Tony Fisher, chair of the Society’s Human Rights Committee, said: 'These arrests and detentions are further evidence of the concerted efforts which are being made by the Turkish authorities to prevent members of the legal profession in Turkey from exercising their legitimate rights to represent their clients free of interference or oppression. 

'The Law Society will continue to provide support to colleagues working in such difficult conditions and do whatever it reasonably can to ensure their plight is investigated at all levels. This communication to the UN Special Rapporteurs is the latest in a series of interventions made on behalf of lawyers in Turkey in recent years.’

The letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was also signed by representatives of: the London Legal Group; Foundation for Society and Legal Studies (TOHAV); Lawyers for Lawyers; Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada; the French delegation to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE); Le Barreau de Limoges; Syndicat des Avocats de France; Défense sans Frontière – Avocats Solidaires (DSF-AS).