29 June 2018 - Amanda June Chadwick_BHRC

BHRC's Stephen Cragg QC on Turkey at UN Side Event w/ IBAHRI

thank you the the bar Human Rights

Committee has a number of aims but relevance dented today our our aims to uphold the rule of Lorentz internationally recognized human rights standards and to support and protect practicing lawyers and judges and human rights defenders who are threatened or oppressed in their work given those two volumes it's not surprising that Turkey has been one of our main concerns countries we have had a lot of concerns in the last couple of years very concerned about lawyers and judges losing their positions losing their jobs having to leave the country for facing trial and detention in Turkey itself with other groups and lawyers we've been involved in trial observations over the last two years of lawyers and others who had alleged links with the current in 2016 we've been concerned about the rule of law right for fair trial and freedom from detention and unjust conviction and sentence we've produced reports each time we've gone to Turkey and observe trials you can find those on our website there quite detail reports who's going to love the background of the international law as well on which our conclusions are reached most recent one

is some from our trial from a couple of weeks ago and that's going to be going up on our website later this week that was a trial of journalists and lawyers involved in the Zaman magazine I've got time today just to give you a couple of bullet points descriptions of what our findings so far have been first of all we're alarmed that the the role of judges in the trials often trials adjourned a number of times after a few days hearings only need to be resumed after the that period of time in front of a wholly different wholly differently constituted course a complete of judges here the same case on different occasions very hard to see how justice can be done in those circumstances the judges themselves our observations indicates seem uninterested in the weakness of cases which are brought against defendants I'm interested in granting bail to them and also seem to have a very close relationship with the prosecution all those concerns that we have about the independence of the trials the indictments and charges that people are facing are often completely unspecific about the individual offenses

that defendants are alleged to have committed often the indictments are several hundred pages long included a long background to the the coup attempt what happened afterwards the implications but will often only have a sentence or two about will a particular defendant is alleged to have done less have been involved in and often those a couple of cents the sentences will be used to base allegations that the defendant has attempted to overthrow the the government of Turkey so it's very hard for people to understand what offenses they're alleged to have committed and there's a complete lack of disclosure in many cases of information to defendants in these trials to support those charges so not not only is it vague the charge itself but the documentation to support that charge it is wanting too often witnesses who are due to attend trials to back up the prosecution of the case don't don't attend and that doesn't seem to bother the court either defenders have also claimed about late disclosure of documents in trials as well so a trial can can carry on for weeks and not months and is only at the very end to

trial that the prosecution disclose important documentation to explain the basis of the charge and we find that there's insufficient evidence in many cases to disclose to establish even a prima facie case which could warrant continued detention and prosecution so our findings at least these cases brought against defendants a very weak indeed in many respects also we're concerned about lack of access to defense lawyers for defendants who are being held in detention often we're told that defendants only have access to their lawyers in an offense for trial for which may lead to them going to prison for a long time often for only a week or so so that so anybody for an hour a week most and also there's a detention in imprisonment pending trial of five hundred lawyers at the moment and many of those detentions we say are not justified and there's now very long sentences being awarded against defendants in these trials our observers in these cases have been very experienced criminal barristers from the UK it's steeped in years of experience of conducting and being involved in

criminal trials and their conclusion about these trials is that they have all the appearance of show trials there's no real attempt to properly prove allegations against defendants and the trials are aimed at simply achieving convictions so in the face of this what bar human rights committee has urged Turkey to do is as mr. four or five things first of all to honor constitutional international commitments the rule of law and fundamental rights and protections first of all secondly to bring the state of emergency so and as soon as possible thirdly two inches measures to reinstate the independence of the judiciary and the prosecution fourthly to release all those detained in the aftermath of the coup attempt and discontinue charges unless there's clear and the substantial evidence of crime and lastly to in prepend more wise widespread granting of bail pending trial in cases where it's it's appropriate for those trials to continue and there our view is that's that the lease which is required to start to bring to an end what can only be described as a gross violation of the

rule of the law in Turkey at the moment

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