International lawyers demand UN action on torture in Turkey

Seven international lawyers’ associations delivered a joint statement on torture and the plight of legal professionals on Turkey to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday.

The statement, which was also circulated at the Human Rights Council, expressed concern over “the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment in the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey, the lack of effective investigations, and the on-going reports of torture.”

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since a failed coup attempt in July 2016. During this period, “1525 lawyers have been prosecuted, 578 have been arrested and kept in pre-trial detention and 99 sentenced,” while “more than 4400 judges and prosecutors have been investigated with more than 2400 put in pretrial detention,” according to sources cited in the statement.

It goes on to say that some of these have faced torture and other ill treatment, including excessive solitary confinement.

“We invite Council to urge Turkey to stop and remedy the arbitrary arrest, detention and wrongful prosecution of legal professionals; and prevent, investigate and punish the use of torture and ill-treatment by State officials,” said the statement.

The associations that endorsed the statement were: Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC), International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Judges for Judges (J4J), Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), The Law Society of England and Wales and Union International des Avocats (UIA)