Call to respect human rights of detained judges and prosecutors in Turkey

Judges for Judges and three other European Associations of Judges together form the Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey. This partnership has published a letter with an appeal to the respect of basic human rights of detained judges and prosecutors. It gives special attention to the dramatic case of judge Sultani Temel, who has been imprisoned with her five-year-old daughter for years now.


Honourable Sirs,

  1. The mass dismissals of Turkish judges and prosecutors had a chilling effect on the willingness of judges to act independently and impartially in proceedings involving the state and creates an atmosphere of fear among remaining judges and prosecutors[1]. This has been generally acknowledged and been confirmed by former prisoners, e.g. foreign journalists who had been detained based on allegations of supporting or being member of a terrorist organisation[2].
  2. There are large numbers of inexperienced new judges, who have been appointed hastily; the selection of these new judges appears to have been done on the basis of political affiliations.[3] Not only the reports of ongoing trials[4] and the reports of formerly detained persons, but also the basic European standards on appointment procedures of judges as well as on the needs of appearance of independence show that there is a huge lack of corresponding standards; furthermore the Turkish Council of Judges and Prosecutors is dependent[5] and thus all in all there does not exist independence of Turkish judiciary for the time being, the rule of law has not been re-installed since July 2016.
  3. In total, approximately 4,000 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed and more than 2,300 judges / prosecutors were in prison (pre-trial detention). About 500 of them are still in prison. More than 600 judges and prosecutors – including some main representatives of YARSAV like Murat Arslan – have been sentenced between 6-12 years imprisonment and their lawsuits as well as many other ongoing lawsuits against judges/prosecutors are still pending.
  4. Concerning all these pending lawsuits reference must be made to points 1.) and 2.) above which shows the arbitrariness and wilfulness of the whole process.
  5. By way of example we want to turn the spotlight on one of the individual judges suffering from the developments in Turkey since the last years: judge Sultani Temel[6] has been arrested (followed by pre-trial detention) since 16 January 2017 (with exception for the period of 5 October 2017 to 6 June 2018), together with her five-year-old daughter. Whereas judge Temel suffers from a major depression without having access to adequate medical treatment, her daughter suffers equally, being in a bad physical and psychological shape. However due to the need of mother care it is necessary for the child to be with her mother. Basic European standards of appropriate medical care for prisoners and care of infants in prison are not followed.
  6. We fully support the letter of the Internationale Rechtshilfefonds: Jurists for Jurists e.V. of 2 October 2019[7] and urgently ask to undertake necessary measures to enhance prison conditions in order to meet requirements of international human rights standards.
  7. We furthermore want to draw attention on the present conditions of Turkish judiciary, namely suffering from a lack of the rule of law, suffering from a lack of basic standards to be able to acknowledge any independent judiciary hand in hand with the still ongoing wilful trials without proper guarantees of fair trial principles.

The letter can be downloaded in pdf-format by clicking here.

Edith Zeller

President of the Association of European Administrative Judges

José Igreja Matos

President of the European Association of Judges

Tamara Trotman

President of Judges for Judges

Filipe Marques

President of Magistrats Européens pour la Democratie et les Libertés