Attacks on lawyers : a travesty of justice

The ICJ deplores the abuse of the judicial process in the prosecution of 27 lawyers at the Heavy Penal Court in Ankara.

On 9 May 2002, the ICJ attended the trial of these lawyers who are charged with “professional misconduct” under Article 240 of the Turkish Penal Code.

These charges stem from the lawyers’ defense of prisoners at Uluncular prison in September 1999 where 10 prisoners died and 85 were injured, allegedly as a result of concerted attacks by gendarmes. During the trial of the prisoners at the State Security Court in December 2000, several of the prisoners, some of whom were on hunger strike, attempted to read a statement in their defense. The Court allegedly refused to hear the statement and the prisoners, along with their lawyers, protested. This caused the gendarmes present in the courtroom to attack the prisoners and the lawyers who had rushed to their client’s protection. These lawyers are now themselves facing charges before the Heavy Penal Court in Ankara where they stand accused of “shouting slogans” and “inciting a riot”. In a mockery of justice, many of the 27 charged lawyers were not even present in court on the day they were alleged to have incited a riot. As one accused lawyer stated, “Each time we do our job we are accused”. The case has been adjourned to 11 July 2002.

The ICJ is concerned that the Government of Turkey is not observing fundamental international human rights and due process standards. The ICJ urges the Government to respect these standards and the UN Principles on the Role of Lawyers which state that, “Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients causes as a result of discharging their functions”.

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