press release

Löning gravely concerned about arrests of 15 lawyers in Turkey


Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (28 January) on the arrests of Turkish lawyers:

I am gravely concerned about the arrests of 15 lawyers in Turkey. During these arrests, files were confiscated from the lawyers’ offices and physical force was used. Such actions represent an abuse of the rights of defence lawyers and of the independence of the legal profession, as well as a violation of Turkish law.

Recent judicial reforms restrict the use of pre-trial detention to grave offences and well-grounded cases. This principle must be applied here. That is why I call upon the Turkish authorities to respect the right to a fair trial and immediately release the detainees from custody.

I welcome and emphatically support the continuation of the Turkish Government’s plans for judicial reform, which aim to strengthen the rule of law in Turkey. These reforms, however, must also be put into practice.

I furthermore call for the release of lawyer and human rights defender Muharrem Erbey. Mr Erbey has been detained for more than three years although there is no risk either of flight or of collusion.

Fifteen lawyers and members of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (CHD) were arrested on 18 January 2013. Arrest warrants were issued for nine of them on 21 January. Lawyers’ offices were searched in violation of the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure, files were confiscated, and allegations were made that directly related to the lawyers’ professional activities.
Muharrem Erbey has been detained for more than three years without being granted full access to his case files. Mr Erbey, who poses no risk of flight because of his close professional and personal ties to Turkey, should be released from detention immediately.
In Berlin in November 2012, Muharrem Erbey was awarded the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize in absentia. The awarding of this prize to Mr Erbey is a reflection of his exemplary dedication to human rights. The prize is bestowed annually by a group of European bar associations.

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