Turkey: Discontinue criminal investigations against Ankara and Diyarbakir Bar Associations | Joint letter

Full PDF (ENG)

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada is among ten lawyers’ organizations expressing concern about criminal investigations launched in Turkey against the Ankara Bar Association and the Diyarbakir Bar Association for “openly disrespect[ing] the religious belief of a group” (article 126(3) of the Penal Code of Turkey) after the bar associations criticized the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, Mr. Ali Erbaş for making public remarks that provoke hatred and hostility against LGBT people. The joint letter reminded Turkish authorities of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and urged relevant authorities to:

  1. Discontinue the criminal investigations launched against the Ankara Bar Association and the Diyarbakir Bar Association with immediate effect and take no further measures against these and other Bar Associations that interfere, or could interfere, with their independence; and
  2. Withdraw all proposals to amend the legal framework concerning lawyers and other legislation or regulations that interfere, or could lead to interference, with the independence of the legal profession (either in respect of individual lawyers or lawyers’ professional representative bodies).

The signatories include:

  • The Law Society of England and Wales
  • Lawyers for Lawyers
  • Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
  • International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
  • European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights
  • Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales
  • Norwegian Bar Association, Human Rights Committee
  • Bar Council of England and Wales
  • Paris Bar, Human Rights Institute
  • UIA-IROL (The Rule of Law Institute of the International Association of Lawyers)