European Interest

Now Erdogan takes on lawyers


Thirteen lawyers in Turkey have been convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to prison after a 21-month-long trial. The Samsun 3rd High Assize Court handed out prison sentences ranging from two to 10 years.

These convictions bring the total number of lawyers convicted in Turkey – since the military coup attempt in July 2016 – to 138.

According to the (Arrested Lawyers Initiative) (a network of Turkish lawyers forced to live in exile), lawyers are all being charged with terror offenses.

“The main two accusations directed against them are membership to an armed terrorist organisation, and forming and leading an armed terrorist organisation. Article 314 of the Penal Code criminalises the establishment and commanding of (Article 314/1), as well as membership (Article 314/2) to an armed organisation. Under the Turkish Penal Code, these two offences attract 7.5 to 22.5 years imprisonment. The Penal Code does not contain a definition of an armed organisation or an armed group.”

The group also warns that the “vague formulation of the criminal provisions on the security of the state and terrorism and their overly broad interpretation by the Turkish judges and prosecutors make all lawyers and other human rights defenders a prospective victim of judicial harassment”.

In a separate report, the (Stockholm Center for Freedom) (an advocacy organisation that promotes the rule of law, democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms with a special focus on Turkey) noted that Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since the failed coup attempt.

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