International Fair Trial Day: call on Turkey

June 14th marks International Fair Trial Day. Focus country for this inaugural edition is Turkey. In a joint statement, Judges for Judges and 92 other legal organisations call on the Turkish authorities to implement ten steps and on the international community to increase its efforts.

International Fair Trial Day aims to further the re-establishment of fair trial rights in those countries where fair trial rights are under serious threat.

The organisations urge Turkey to take the following steps:

  1. Take necessary legislative and other measures to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and end all practices constituting direct interference, pressure or influence with respect to judicial conduct, including those from the executive.
  2. Implement the recommendation of the numerous human rights oversight mechanisms, including of the Human Rights Council in the UN Universal Periodic Review and the Venice Commission, to introduce a constitutional amendment to make the Council of Judges and Prosecutors independent of the executive and ensure that its decisions are open to judicial review.
  3. Amend the relevant articles of the Turkish Penal Code and the Law No. 3713 on Prevention of Terrorism, that are found to be broad, vague and arbitrarily applied against critical voices, to meet the requirements of clarity and foreseeability and the principles of legal certainty and no punishment without law.
  4. Immediately end the systematic abuse, detention and prosecution of lawyers, judges, other legal professionals, journalists, human rights defenders, opposition politicians, academics and others where there is no cogent evidence of specific criminal misconduct presented in proceedings that comply with international fair trial standards.
  5. Guarantee and respect the principle of presumption of innocence in all criminal investigations and prosecutions.
  6. Stop any practices preventing enjoyment of the rights protected under international human rights treaties such as freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including by way of using the exercise of such freedoms as grounds for arbitrary prosecutions and lengthy and punitive pretrial detention.
  7. Ensure that the rights to fair trial embodied in article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are respected in all criminal prosecutions in Turkey’s criminal courts at all levels.
  8. Repeal state of emergency amendments passed into law, which amendments seek to enable the dismissal of judges and prosecutors without a fair hearing and which seek to limit the rights of lawyers to discharge their professional duties, the rights of suspects to legal counsel, and the right of lawyer-client communications, as well as to impose other limitations on the justice system, as outlined in the report of Human Rights Watch published in April 2019.
  9. End the practice of mass trials of lawyers, judges, journalists, opposition politicians, human rights defenders and others, in particular on bogus charges, such as the charge of membership in a terrorist organization, aimed at preventing their legitimate activities and silencing them.
  10. Create an open dialogue with the international oversight mechanisms and national and international NGOs to address and resolve the structural human right issues in the country and, as a first step, promptly agree to requests by the UN Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers and other special procedures to conduct country visits to Turkey.

Click here to download the statement in full.