Turkey : End detention of lawyers held for representing clients , says ICJ

The ICJ expressed today its deep concern at the arrest order of some 60 lawyers in Turkey on grounds allegedly linked to the representation of their clients, in breach of Turkey’s international law obligations.

The ICJ understands that around 47 lawyers have been arrested on 11 September in Turkey while 13 others are being searched by police for allegedly acting on behalf of clients accused of participation in the Gülenist movement, called by Turkish authorities the “Fetullahist Terrorist Organisation” (FETO). It has been reported that lawyers were interrogated about their professional activities.

“Lawyers should never be arrested or sanctioned for representing their clients, or identified with their clients causes,” said Roisin Pillay, Director of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme,

“This is a basic principle of the independence of the legal profession and international law and its respect is essential to ensure that everyone has the right to a fair trial.”

The ICJ will follow the case closely to ensure that international law and standards are respected concerning any action against the lawyers arrested.

“If the sole charges against the lawyers arrested are related to their work as lawyers representing their clients, they should be immediately released,” added Roisin Pillay.

The ICJ stressed that they should not be subject to arrest for the legitimate exercise of any human rights and fundamental freedoms.  In the event that any of them are subject to charges for cognizable crime consistent with Turkish and international law, they must be brought immediately before a court to consider whether any continued detention is lawful. If charged, they must be in ensured all rights of fair trial by independent and impartial courts.

The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers say that “lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions” (article 18).


Roisin Pillay, e: roisin.pillay(a)icj.org

Massimo Frigo, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org – t: +41797499949

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