ICJ releases findings on trial of Turkish lawyers

The ICJ today expressed in its preliminary report its deep concern at the prosecution of 27 lawyers before No. 1 Ankara Heavy Penal Court.

The ICJ finds that, “This is an unprecedented charge made by an agent of the State against members of the legal profession”. The report, which is based on the ICJ’s observation of the 9 May hearing of the accused lawyers, recommends that the Government of Turkey drop the charge and cease from attacking members of the legal profession.

The 27 lawyers stand charged with “professional misconduct” under Turkish Penal law for allegedly having “shouted slogans” at the court in an earlier hearing and “inciting those persons present in the courtroom to resist the gendarmes.”

The charges stem from the lawyers’ representation of political prisoners at Uluncular prison during a court proceeding in December 2000. It was at this hearing that the lawyers were alleged to have shouted slogans at the court and incited resistance to gendarmes. The present proceedings were based on a complaint filed by a Gendarme Captain (who was not present during the hearing) with the approbation of the Minister of Justice.

The prosecution of lawyers in the discharge of their professional duties is contrary to fundamental international human rights and due process standards. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers establish that, “Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”

As one of the accused lawyers stated, “The reason why we are charged today is not for professional misconduct, but for doing our job properly. Those who see our clients as less than human see us in the same manner, as if we support terrorism.”

The case has been adjourned to 11 July 2002. The ICJ will be observing this trial.

See also the Final report Final report of the trial of 27 Turkish lawyers

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