The member of the Istanbul branch of ÇHD, lawyer Günay Dag, was subjected to torture a few days ago by guards of Maltepe juvenile’s prison acting under the orders of the prison governor while visiting one of his clients. His head was rammed against the wall and on the ground and as a result his fingers and head were injured. Afterwards he was dragged out of the prison on the floor.
It is worth remembering that Lawyer Günay Dag had gone to the prison to investigate the alleged torture of child detainees.
Obviously, even if there is a state of emergency (Decree having force of Law concerning the emergency measures – Decree Decision Number: KHK /667) the individuals’ rights must be inviolable (As amended on May 7, 2004; act 5170: Even under these circumstances the individual’s right to life, the integrity of his/her physical and mental existence shall be inviolable….) and the Article 17 of the Turkish Constitution says:
……No one shall be subjected to torture or mal-treatment; no one shall be subjected to penalties or treatment incompatible with human dignity.
It is evident that if lawyers cannot do their jobs in Turkey, it means that more children and more young people will be arrested because of their speech and thoughts and many people will be faced with torture. So this is not just a fight for the lawyers’ rights but is a fight for democracy and freedom, as defined by the case law of the ECHR. Nowadays we are facing a long-running attempt by the Turkish government to stifle human rights activism.
Our organisations work on the base of The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which have been adopted by the 8th congress of the United Nations in Havana (Cuba) between 27 August and 7 September 1990, which principles contain the following:
Whereas adequate protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which all persons are entitled, be they economic, social and cultural, or civil and political, requires that all persons have effective access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession,
Whereas professional associations of lawyers have a vital role to play in upholding professional standards and ethics, protecting their members from persecution and improper restrictions and infringements, providing legal services to all in need of them, and cooperating with governmental and other institutions in furthering the ends of justice and public interest,
The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, set forth below, which have been formulated to assist Member States in their task of promoting and ensuring the proper role of lawyers, should be respected and taken into account by Governments within the framework of their national legislation and practice and should be brought to the attention of lawyers as well as other persons, such as judges, prosecutors, members of the executive and the legislature, and the public in general. These principles shall also apply, as appropriate, to persons who exercise the functions of lawyers without having the formal status of lawyers.
And establish the following guarantees:
- Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
- Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
Likewise the Recommendation (Council of Europe) No. R(2000)21 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer sets the minimums of protection that are not being followed by the Turkish State.
As jurists we cannot accept this harassment of our colleague. Sadly, there is a long tradition of attacking the defence in Turkey. We must prevent the development of intimidation against lawyers and humans rights defenders.
This is why, in this situation the AED-EDL, the ELDH and the Foundation of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer condemn the actions against the civil and political rights of its citizens and lawyers occurring in Turkey by way of the use of state powers. And so:
I.- We call on our colleagues, friends, democrats, the chairman of the Turkish Union of Bar Associations and all chairmen and board members of the Bar Associations throughout Turkey to show solidarity with the lawyer Günay Dag.
II.- We demand that the governor and the prison guards must be investigated concerning these facts and prosecuted if necessary.
III.- We call upon the Turkish government to stop these practices against human rights defenders and lawyers.
IV.- Finally, we invite the Union of Bar Associations of Turkey to break its silence regarding the increasing attacks on lawyers and we invite the Istanbul Bar Association to support its member.
Harlem, Créteil, London, 16th October 2016.