02 marzo 2020
El IBAHRI pide que se respete el estado de derecho en apoyo del abogado de derechos humanos Ramazan Demir
Turkey: IBAHRI calls for adherence to the rule of law in support of human rights lawyer Ramazan Demir
Friday 28 February 2020
As the next hearing in the longstanding criminal case against human rights lawyer Ramazan Demir and eleven other lawyers looms, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on the authorities in the Republic of Turkey and the Istanbul Bar Association to uphold the rule of law, and to respect the integrity and independence of the country’s legal profession.
Mr Demir, recipient of the 2017 IBA Human Rights Award, is to attend the Heavy Criminal Court in Istanbul, Turkey, on 28 February 2020 alongside other human rights lawyers, to face charges that stem from their work representing 46 other lawyers who were arrested in 2011 for allegedly working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organisation. The IBAHRI strongly supports Mr Demir’s fundamental rights as a lawyer enshrined in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and calls for a fair trial upholding these rights.
IBAHRI Co-Chair, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘Given the climate of growing attacks against lawyers in Turkey and the recent re-arrest of Osman Kavala after being acquitted, the IBAHRI is deeply concerned with the upcoming trial of Ramazan Demir. The fundamental right of lawyers to represent their clients without fear of persecution is well established in international human rights law and is an essential component of the rule of law in a functioning democracy. This principle which the government of Turkey is ignoring demonstrates a threat to the independence of the legal profession.’
In December 2018, following a request by the Ministry of Justice, the Istanbul Bar Association initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Demir, relying on previously initiated criminal proceedings in 2016. This action was taken shortly after a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), where Mr Demir represented numerous people who asserted credible claims against the Turkish Government. In February 2019, the IBAHRI condemned this undertaking by the Republic of Turkey and the Istanbul Bar Association.
IBAHRI Co-Chair, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, commented: ‘This year the IBAHRI is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and the IBA Standards for the Independence of the Legal Profession, both of which establish the vital role of national bar associations in protecting their members from persecution. It is particularly shocking that, 30 years on from the establishment of these international norms, lawyers’ basic rights are being challenged by a bar association meant to protect and provide a voice for legal professionals.’
Mr Demir works with the Lawyers Association for Freedom (Özgürlükcü Hukukçular Dernegi), an organisation that provides legal aid and actively advocates for more democratic laws in Turkey. The group has exposed numerous human rights violations perpetrated in the regions of Turkey placed under curfew. As part of this, Mr Demir has brought more than a dozen cases to the ECtHR and to the Turkish Constitutional Court. He also represented the former Peoples’ Democratic Party’s Co-Chair, Selahattin Demirtas, before the ECtHR and his work contributes significantly to protecting the rule of law in Turkey.
IBA Executive Director Mark Ellis, said: ‘Ramazan Demir is an extraordinary lawyer with an unwavering determination and passion for justice. At the coalface, tackling human rights violations in Turkey, Mr Demir plays a critical role in society. Lawyers in all jurisdictions should be outraged at the actions of the Turkish authorities, clearly designed to intimidate and thwart Mr Demir as he carries out his professional duties. An independent defender of human rights, it is reprehensible that Mr Demir is facing such assault.’
Notes to the Editor
Click here to read the February 2019 statement IBAHRI condemns persecution of human rights lawyer Ramazan Demir in Turkey.
Click here for further IBAHRI-related items on Turkey.
The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world’s bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. The present membership is comprised of more than 80,000 individual international lawyers from most of the world’s leading law firms and some 190 bar associations and law societies spanning more than 170 countries.
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.