Open letter to the Turkish Embassy in Oslo: Upholding the rule of law and the right to a fair trial

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned organizations, are deeply disturbed by the current judicial developments in Turkey, as expressed by the Human Rights Experts of the UN[1] and Council of Europe[2], and convey our full support for our colleagues and lawyers in Turkey who are detained, on trial or sentenced to prison.

We stress the importance of respect for lawyers’ rights to perform their duties without “intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” as stated in the UN “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers”, Art. 16. Lawyers have a right not to be identified with their clients or causes (Art. 18).

We urge the Turkish authorities to have due respect for the right to a fair trial as stated in Art. 6 of the ECHR and Art.14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We stress the importance of an independent judiciary, as a prerequisite of a fair trial, see ECHR Art. 6 § 1 and ICCPR Art. 14 § 1.

We urge Turkish authorities to abstain from prosecuting lawyers based on statements and actions protected by the freedom of expression and of assembly in ECHR Art. 10 and Art. 11 and ICCPR Art. 19.

Several of the charges (terrorism-related) are based on laws that in our opinion does not meet the required standards of lex certa and we strongly fear that indictments are not supported by sufficient evidence to merit criminal persecution.

We regret the Turkish state interference with the Bar Association’s right to independence. Lawyers are entitled to form and join independent professional associations (UN principles §§ 23 and 24, and Art. 22 of the ICCPR), and these are essential for the lawyers’ ability to perform their duties and thus the well-functioning of the legal system.

We ask that Turkey immediate release all lawyers incarcerated merely because they are performing their duties and functions as lawyers and/or exercising their rights to freedom of expression. We expect Turkey to uphold the fundamental principles of the rule of law.

 

Yours sincerely,

Else Leona McClimans
Norwegian Bar Association’s Human Rights Committee

Agnete Haaland
PEN Norway

Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal
Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Håvard Holm
Norwegian Association of Lawyers

John Peder Egenæs
Amnesty International i Norge

Terje Einarsen
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Norway

Marianne Børseth
Norwegian Association of Police Prosecutors

Kirsten Bleskestad
Norwegian Association of Judges

 

[1] https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26203&LangID=E

[2] https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/commissioner-reiterates-her-call-to-restore-and-uphold-the-role-of-lawyers-as-human-rights-defenders-in-turkey-in-the-aftermath-of-the-death-of-lawyer

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Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal

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