Voicing concerns over increasing attacks against lawyers’ independence in Turkey, the president of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) has sent a letter to the country’s prime minister, urging Turkish officials to immediately end any action curtailing the independence of the country’s bars.

The letter penned by UIA President Jean-Marie Burguburu was sent to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan <http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/tag/Recep%20Tayyip%20Erdo%C4%9Fan>  on Aug. 5, the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations (TBB) announced Aug. 21. 

In his letter, Burguburu said the UIA has been “regularly alerted over the past months about the increase in attacks against the independence of the legal profession in Turkey,” as he particularly focused on pressures exerted on lawyers of protesters during and after the Gezi Park unrest.

Burguburu reminds ECHR obligations

“We urge the authorities to stop immediately any actions aimed at curtailing the independence of the bars, including unwarranted prosecution, and threats of judicial or administrative reprisals and to respect their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to prosecute those responsible for the serious violations of human rights which occurred during the protests,” Burguburu said.

“We would be deeply shocked if the allegations with regards to the position of the authorities sanctioning lawyers for legally exercising their mandate as legal representative of victims are verified. The UIA cannot accept such an attack on the very heart of the profession. Besides, instead of stigmatizing the bars and association of lawyers, the authorities should investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the misconduct,” he said.

Noting that they “condemned these attacks,” the UIA president said, “Today our concern goes to the situation of the Ankara <http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/tag/Ankara>  Bar Association, which is accused of illegally promoting individuals’ accusations against the police,” in an apparent reference to the Gezi protesters. 

Burguburu’s letter was also sent to President Abdullah Gül; Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin; Turkey’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Oguz Demiralp; as well as Turkey’s permanent representative to the European Union, Ambassador Selim Yenel. 

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News, August/21/2013