UPR of Turkey: Joint Stakeholder Submission to the UN Human Rights Council

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In July 2019, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada joined a coalition of legal organizations* led by the Law Society of England and Wales in a joint stakeholder submission for Turkey’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council, scheduled to take place during the UPR’s 35th session in January/February 2020. A summary is below. See the full submission (.pdf).

A. Introduction

  1. The information contained in this submission is based on evidence gathered by the submitting organisations, all of which are either professional bodies representing lawyers in their respective jurisdictions or voluntary associations of lawyers (see Annex). [1] Our shared interest is the independence of the legal profession, including the judiciary, the right to a fair trial, and the rule of law.
  2. The independence of the legal profession is an essential guarantee for the protection of human rights of all individuals and necessary for effective access to justice. [2] The widespread and systematic persecution of members of the legal profession in Turkey, which has continued unabated since the failed 2016 coup, requires urgent attention.
  3. In the previous two UPR cycles, in 2010 and 2015, Turkey committed to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and accepted all recommendations made in that respect. However, these recommendations have not been effectively implemented. This joint submission addresses the following issues arising since Turkey’s second UPR:Constitutional and legislative framework:
    (i) threats to judicial and prosecutorial independence; and
    (ii) dismissals and arrests of judges and prosecutors; lack of an effective remedy.Administration of justice, including impunity and the rule of law:
    (iii) interference with lawyers’ professional duties; and
    (iv) arbitrary arrest, detention, and prosecution of lawyers, and closure of Bar associations and Law Societies.

[1] The Law Society of England and Wales; International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute; Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales; Conseil National des Barreaux; European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights; Lawyers for Lawyers; Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada; Norwegian Bar Association, Human Rights Committee; International Observatory of Endangered Lawyers; Paris Bar Human Rights Institute; German Bar Association, Human Rights Committee; Geneva Bar Association, Human Rights Commission; Abogacía Española – Consejo General; UIA – International Association of Lawyers.

[2] UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, preamble.