LCA condemns ‘disturbing’ attacks against Turkish lawyers
The Law Council of Australia (LCA) is urging diplomatic engagement with the Turkish government following the arrest of nine lawyers.
The nine Turkish lawyers, who were due to represent another group of 47 lawyers being prosecuted for alleged association with a terrorist cell, were arrested during raids on their homes on 16 March.
Lawyers seeking to represent their colleagues were attacked by riot police during a press conference on the steps of a court room the following day.
While the nine lawyers have been released, they remain under prosecution on undisclosed evidence in breach of fair trial rights.
The LCA has arranged a meeting with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to call for engagement with senior representatives of the Turkish government.
“All lawyers in Turkey must be able to practise without fear of retribution for carrying out their professional duties,” said LCA President Stuart Clark.
“No lawyer should have to face intimidation, hindrance or improper interference in their work."
He added: “Regardless of who a lawyer represents, they should be treated in a manner consistent with Article 9, 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers."
The LCA joins the International Bar Association, LAWASIA, the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales in expressing its concern with the actions against lawyers in Turkey.
The recent attacks against lawyers follow targeted attacks against judges and prosecutors in Turkey.
To date, 14 judges and prosecutors have been disbarred from the profession, while 680 judges and prosecutors are due to be suspended, on these grounds. In total, 5,000 judges and prosecutors are under investigation.
Judges and prosecutors have been accused of being members of ‘Parallel Structure’ and ‘Gülenists’.
‘Gülenists’ are followers of Fethullah Gülen, who is regarded as a terrorist by the Turkish government.
He wasan ally of the current Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, until 2013, but the relationship broke down once Mr Gülen made serious corruption allegations against the government.
The LCA joins the International Association of Judges and the Judicial Conference of Australia in expressing concern with the persecution of the judiciary in recent months.
“It is the duty of the Turkish government to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary,” said Mr Clark.
“The targeting of lawyers and judges is part of a wider attack on the rule of law and human rights in Turkey. It also marks a disturbing turn of events, as Turkey continues to shift further and further away from being a democracy.”