Reading of the statement in defence of the rights of women and the population of Afghanistan.
The FBE expresses its grave concern about the political and social unrest.
Reading of the statement in defence of the rights of women and the population of Afghanistan.
The FBE expresses its grave concern about the political and social unrest.
AFGHANISTAN is a landlocked country in South Asia with its capital in Kabul.
It borders with China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Afghanistan has been de facto controlled by the Taliban as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan since August 15, 2021, i.e. since the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan today as a Taliban-ruled state, bearing in mind the actions of the 1990s, could mark a giant step backwards, especially for women of Afghanistan.
The Taliban, after entering Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, try to appear moderate. Unfortunately, many observers warn that these are just appearances and predict that women and girls will have to live again as they did in the nineties. Unfortunately, women who were committed to women’s rights in the past are now even afraid for their own lives.
The Taliban already controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. At that time, under the Taliban rule, women were not allowed to go out into the street without a burqa, that is, a garment completely covering the body and face, and only in the company of a man. The girls were not allowed to go to school.
Past experiences do not give Afghan women a strong and healthy hope for the future. The women fear that they will not be allowed to work, that they will not even be able to go to the hospital if they are not accompanied by a man relative.
There is information that such a situation already prevails in provinces over which the Taliban previously took control.
For example, according to media reports, we learn that in Kandahar province, Taliban militants were to send home nine female employees of a local bank and order them to stay there. Their place at work was to be taken by a family member – a man. The Taliban also entered mosques and declared that they would marry widows and young women.
Officially, the Taliban ensure that women “will not lose anything”, that they will have the same rights as Europeans. However, they will have to wear hijabs. Afghan authorities even claim that teachers and journalists have resumed work in Afghanistan and have lost nothing.
The Taliban has in the past severely punished Women for not following the orders and rules they imposed. In the 1990s, women were locked up, tortured and even killed. There were public flogging and public executions.
All of us as defenders, incl. Women’s rights, we are afraid that now such a situation will return, and mainly people who work for greater freedom of women or who exercise this freedom will be punished.
Time will show which fears will be confirmed and which hopes for the freedom of women’s rights in Afghanistan will be maintained and expanded. International opinion will closely scrutinize the situation of women in Afghanistan and will react firmly when it comes to violations of laws.
Of the FBE Human Rights Commission
Its chairman, Artur Wierzbicki
Welcome from President FBE Human Rights Committee : Artur Wierzbicki
Keynote speaker on the current situation in Colombia:
Adíl Meléndez Márquez , Human Rights lawyer from Cartagena
Panel: How can the international legal community support human rights in Colombia
Moderator: Sara Chandler
Dominique Attias: President of the FBE
Carles McGragh: President Human Rights Commission, Catalan Bar Associations
Camilla Zapata Besso, Barrister Doughty Street Chambers
Please save the date, and pass on save the date to your networks.
Organised by FBE and Colombia Caravana.
“Her death is a murder” reminds us Ceren Uysal, her Turkish friend and colleague, responsible for the association of progressive lawyers (CHD).
Ebru TIMTIK, her ardor, her courage, her smile, her eyes so lively underlined by voluntary eyebrows.
She is dead, carried in the ground by twelve of her colleagues, mourned by all of us.
Ebru TIMTIK loved life so much.
Fond of poetry and zaza music, she was claiming her kurdishness and loving Turkey, her country.
Nothing or no one could bring down this icon of the struggle for human rights in Turkey.
Look at her screaming “freedom” at the top of her lungs on the steps of this sinister courthouse that Stalin could have been proud of, a courthouse in the image of a dictator.
What has become of the Turkey that Ebru loved so much, the country of the sweetness of life that is now moving away in a mortifying way.
A country that now dares to state that the lawyer of a terrorist is a terrorist, the negation of the principles advocated by the countries that are part of the Council of Europe.
She was the joy of life and courage embodied. She was the one who assisted the family of Berkin ELVAN, a teenager who died in 2014 as a result of injuries received during the anti-government protests in Gezi Park in 2013.
She was also the one who stood by the families after the massacres of Kurdish civilians in CIZRE in January 2016.
Nothing and no one including Erdogan’s henchmen were afraid of this emblematic woman, Ebru Timtik, a reed that nothing could bend.
Once again she went into battle with sixteen of her colleagues, including her sister Barkin Timtik, to defend clients qualified as terrorists by the Turkish authorities.
She was appearing with her sister and fellow fighters on September 10, 2018 in front of the 37th Criminal Chamber of Istanbul Court at Barkikoy Courthouse during the CH2D2 trial.
I was there.
What a joy when I learned on my return from Turkey that on September 14, 2018 they had all been released, but what a disillusion the next day, when this same chamber decided, after an appeal by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, to return twelve of the released lawyers, including Ebru, to detention.
After a parody of a trial, she was -the court suddenly interrupting the debates- condemned to a heavy sentence: thirteen and a half years in prison and incarcerated on June 20, 2019 following this conviction.
Who could have imagined at that time that every day of detention would bring her closer to death?
For all of us, she was invincible.
On January 3, 2020, Ebru TIMTIK began a hunger strike to demand a fair trial and in particular that her appeals be examined.
On April 5 of the same year, she announced that she was turning her strike into a “death fast”.
Who keeps in memory her now tiny body and her big smile, the last image of her.
She had lost thirty kilos but continued to have faith in her fights, irreducible Ebru!
She died, her coffin covered with red carnations.
Did her colleagues that took her to her final resting place knew that the carnation is used as a symbol of women’s struggle for their rights?
Ebru was not fighting for her rights but for the rights of others, for the right to true justice for her clients, the right to live in a free country.
Death took her away on August 27, 2020. Since then we mourn and honor her as we do today.
All the Bars of Europe, for the first time together on September 7, 2020 at 12:00, stopped to express their solidarity, to think of her and to say that our support to the imprisoned lawyers will not weaken.
She took her leave and probably saved our colleague Aytac UNSAL who was incarcerated with her on hunger strike for 213 days.
He was released by the Turkish Supreme Court.
A final gift from Ebru.
She is here among us and asks us to continue to fight for the livings.
This is our message to the torturers.
The European Bars Federation, with its 250 Bars of the Council of Europe, will continue to support our courageous and unjustly imprisoned colleagues in Turkey and around the world.
Never, never, no matter how long the trials are, how many times they are postponed, no matter what the puppets at the head of your courts do, the lawyers of the world will never give up.
Ebru will stand by us no matter what you do.
Today, 14 June 2021, marks the inaugural International Fair Trial Day (IFTD) which will be observed for the first time worldwide. The focus country of the IFTD this year is Turkey, a country that is and has been suffering for many years, from systemic human rights violations and a serious lack of fair trial standards. On the occasion of the IFTD, drawing attention to the deteriorating situation in the country, the undersigned organisations call upon the Turkish authorities to take the necessary steps urgently to instate the right to a fair trial in Turkey and to create an environment under which these fundamental procedural rights can effectively be protected. The undersigned organisations also call upon the international community to increase their efforts to draw attention to the situation in Turkey with a particular focus on the issues around the fair trial principles.
Background of the IFTD
In response to the serious failure of the judicial system in Turkey to protect and respect fair trial principles, lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal began a hunger strike in January 2020. They expressed a common demand of many thousands who were subjected to arbitrary investigations, trials, arrests, detentions, and wrongful convictions. They called on the Turkish government to comply with its obligations to secure and respect the right to a fair trial and to end practices constituting systemic violations of this fundamental right. On 5 April 2020, on Lawyers’ Day in Turkey, they turned their hunger strike into a death fast to underline the vital importance of this demand. Ebru Timtik lost her life on 27 August 2020, the 238th day of her death fast, while Aytaç Ünsal ended his protest on 4 September 2020 following a temporary release order by the Supreme Court which was later withdrawn. He was returned to prison on 10 December 2020.
Fundamental rights and freedoms and principles of the rule of law are under attack not only in Turkey but globally. In many countries, including European countries, there are reports documenting governmental oppression and practices undermining international human rights obligations. Thus, those who carry out activities to condemn, draw attention to and criticise these practices are under constant pressure from the state apparatus, including pressure from the judiciary, whose independence and impartiality is being seriously undermined. Attempts are being made to silence lawyers, human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians, academics and many others raising their voices against such policies through baseless accusations against them, e.g. under anti-terror legislation, a practice that has been referred to as ‘judicial harassment’.
The International Fair Trial Day was established along with the Ebru Timtik Award to advocate for the re-establishment of fair trial rights in those countries where fair trial rights are under serious threat. The occasion will be used by the international community to focus on the situation in the country chosen for that year as the focus country and to draw attention to the fair trial issues faced there. Also, an annual Ebru Timtik Award will be granted to an individual and/or an organisation from the focus country that has been active in defending and or promoting the right to a fair trial in that specific country.
Taking into account the background of the IFTD and the continuing deterioration of the situation in the country, Turkey was chosen this year as the focus country. In future years other countries will be chosen to reflect the challenges to the right to fair trial being experienced in those respective jurisdictions.
Call to Action on Turkey
The state of human rights and rule of law in Turkey have been declining particularly since the Gezi Park protests in 2013 which were followed by the collapse of the peace talks in 2015 and the state of emergency declared after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt which remained in place for 2 years until July 2018. The mistreatment of lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders, opposition politicians, academics, and others who are critical of the current situation reflects a far wider practice in the country of failing to respect fair trial rights, among other fundamental rights and freedoms, especially since the attempted coup of July 2016.
The rapid deterioration seen in human rights has been widely reported and reflected on by the international community, including the UN and Council of Europe organs, each of which has identified serious issues ranging from the lack of independence of the judiciary to the collapse of the main pillars of a democratic system, including separation of powers. Criticisms from these international bodies and from the international community generally have been far ranging from undue interference in fundamental rights and freedoms for political purposes to serious violation of political participation rights of the minority groups such as Kurds.
Reflecting on the issues identified in these reports, we the undersigned organisations, call on the Turkish authorities to implement the following steps to ensure full protection of the right to a fair trial in the country and to create an environment enabling effective protection of its underlying principles:
• take necessary legislative and other measures to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and end all practices constituting direct interference, pressure or influence with respect to judicial conduct, including those from the executive;
• implement the recommendation of the numerous human rights oversight mechanisms, including of the Human Rights Council in the UN Universal Periodic Review2 and Venice Commission,3 to introduce a constitutional amendment to make the Council of Judges and Prosecutors independent of the executive and ensure that its decisions are open to judicial review;
• amend the relevant articles of the Turkish Penal Code and the Law No. 3713 on Prevention of Terrorism, that are found to be broad, vague and arbitrarily applied against critical voices, to meet the requirements of clarity and foreseeability and the principles of legal certainty and no punishment without law;
• immediately end the systematic abuse, detention and prosecution of lawyers, judges, other legal professionals, journalists, human rights defenders, opposition politicians, academics and others where there is no cogent evidence of specific criminal misconduct presented in proceedings that comply with international fair trial standards;
• guarantee and respect the principle of presumption of innocence in all criminal investigations and prosecutions;
• stop any practices preventing enjoyment of the rights protected under international human rights treaties such as freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including by way of using the exercise of such freedoms as grounds for arbitrary prosecutions and lengthy and punitive pretrial detention;
• ensure that the rights to fair trial embodied in article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are respected in all criminal prosecutions in Turkey’s criminal courts at all levels;
• repeal state of emergency amendments passed into law, which amendments seek to enable the dismissal of judges and prosecutors without a fair hearing and which seek to limit the rights of lawyers to discharge their professional duties, the rights of suspects to legal counsel, and the right of lawyer-client communications, as well as to impose other limitations on the justice system, as outlined in the report of Human Rights Watch published in April 2019;
• end the practice of mass trials of lawyers, judges, journalists, opposition politicians, human rights defenders and others, in particular on bogus charges, such as the charge of membership in a terrorist organization, aimed at preventing their legitimate activities and silencing them; and
• create an open dialogue with the international oversight mechanisms and national and international NGOs to address and resolve the structural human right issues in the country and, as a first step, promptly agree to requests by the UN Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers and other special procedures to conduct country visits to Turkey.
We call on the international community to respond effectively to the deteriorating state of human rights and rule of law in Turkey and to increase its efforts to effectively address these issues with international stakeholders for increased awareness and attention.
Loss of biodiversity, climate change, extinction of species, pollution and the overall degradation of ecosystems have a profound global impact on the enjoyment of human rights and require the widest possible international cooperation in order to prevent or remedy this adverse effect.
The protection of the environment and the protection of human rights are interconnected: one cannot be achieved without the other, nor at the expense of the other. Life and well-being on our planet are contingent on our collective capacity to guarantee both human rights and a healthy environment to future generations. A human rights-based approach – using human rights laws and mechanisms in the context of environmental impacts – offers an innovative and evolving tool for environmental protection.
A number of international human rights standards, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter, have successfully been invoked in environmental issues.
Furthermore, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the case-law of the European Committee of Social rights affirm the undeniable inter-connections between environmental protection on the one hand and human rights on the other. For example, the European Court of Human Rights has so far ruled in some 300 environment-related cases, applying concepts such as the right to life, right to respect for private life or right to property to a wide range of issues including pollution, man-made or natural disasters and access to environmental information.
This free HELP online course addresses the legal frameworks and practical approaches that will support legal practitioners and others in understanding the connections between human rights and the environment, in particular how to apply a human rights-based approach to environmental protection.
This HELP course explores the State’s human rights obligations in an environmental context; provides practical guidance on how a human rights-based approach can be applied to environmental protection; analyses the greening of human rights in regional systems; and offers an introduction to corporate environmental responsibility.
The topics covered are explored in a practical way, using presentations, interactive screens, knowledge tests and reflective exercises.
The course was developed in 2021.
The right to a fair trial has long been recognised by the international community as a fundamental human right. Without a fair trial every individual risks becoming the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Either as an innocent suspect wrongly convicted, or as a victim unable to secure justice for a wrong perpetrated against them.
Ebru Timtik was one of 18 lawyers in Turkey who were members of the Progressive Lawyers Association, some of which were working at the People’s Law Office, made subject to a prosecution in the Istanbul 37th Assize Court under Articles 314 and 220 of the Turkish Penal Code for terrorist offences. She and her colleagues were convicted on 20 March 2019 after a trial during which basic procedural safeguards and internationally recognised fair trial principles were ignored. Her conviction was based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses, many of which gave inconsistent testimony in relation to alleged facts and time periods.
Documents allegedly obtained from government authorities in Belgium and the Netherland were never authenticated but they were nevertheless used as grounds for convictions without her lawyers having access to them. The originals of digital documents which were allegedly seized in a musical centre were also not made available to the defence lawyers. They could
not see, analyse or challenge these documents which were never shown to have existed.
Lawyers acting in her defence were frequently prevented from participating in the proceedings and in some circumstances were excluded.
The defects in the trial process led Ebru Timtik together with one of her colleagues, Aytaç Ünsal, to commence a “death fast” following a hunger strike which began on 5 April 2020, the Turkish “Day of the Lawyer”. Sadly, on 27 August 2020 Ebru Timtik died whilst continuing to protest both her innocence of the charges on which she had been convicted, and the lack of
respect for fundamental fair trial principles in the criminal justice system which had prejudiced both her and her colleagues, and many thousands of other individuals in Turkey.
In recognition of her sacrifice, and in order to focus attention on the plight of those in countries around the globe who are facing prosecution in circumstances where fair trial principles are not being observed or respected, a number of international bar associations and lawyers
organisations have come together to arrange an annual “International Fair Trial Day” which will be observed every year on 14 June. Steps are also being undertaken to introduce a new annual Ebru Timtik Award to recognise an individual or an organisation who has or which has made an exceptional contribution towards securing fair trial rights in the country on which the
International Fair Trial Day is focusing for the year in question. Each year a conference will be held, either online or at a physical location in a country chosen because of the level of concern with regard to the lack of respect for fair trial rights in that jurisdiction at that time. There will also be events in the countries across the word on each International Fair Trial Day to raise
awareness of the situation in the focus country.
The steering group consisting of Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), European Bars Federation (FBE), European Democratic Lawyers (EDL-AED), French National Bar Council (CNB), International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), International
Association of Lawyers (UIA), International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Italian National Bar Council (CNF), Law Society of England and Wales, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), Ayşe Bingöl Demir and Serife Ceren Uysal agreed that the first conference will be held as a virtual event on 14 June 2021 and will focus on fair trial rights in Turkey.
Recently, the Italian medias have been released news about wiretaps involving lawyers, while they were talking with their clients or consultants, during the preliminary investigations leaded by one of Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The facts that have occurred, as reported by the press and confirmed by the Institutions, must be investigated with determination.
In whole Europe, anyway, we are observing increasing limitations of Lawyers’ rights, sacrificed on the altar of security at all costs.
The secrecy of communications between lawyer and client, which is one of the pillars of the right of defence, guaranteed by the fundamental principle by the European Union, cannot be profaned.
The lawyers must carry out their job, defending and representing the client, because they are the full holders of the rights attributed to them by Art. 6 of the ECHR and Art. 47 and 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as broadly and freely as possible.
In order to fully carry out his mandate, the lawyers must be free to talk with their clients and their consultant in absolute freedom, i.e. without their conversations being, even indirectly, subject to wiretapes.
In a procedural system (which should be) based on the principle of equality between the defence and the prosecution, it is unacceptable that the defensive strategy developed by the Defender in the conversations with the client or his consultants can be “picked up” by his procedural counterpart.
The FBE, worried about this increasing issues in whole Europe, supports the respect of Rule of Law and calls for Governments nad responsible institutions intervention to stigmatise these behaviours and to promote respect for the European Convention on Human Rights.
Text prepared by
Mr Michele Calantropo, FBE HRC MEMBER
The state of rule of law is an increasing concern in respect of many European countries. ln recent years concerted efforts have been made at European level to prevent degradation of the rule of law through measures aimed at the well-functioning of national justice systems.
ln the Council of Europe (CoE) Plan of Action on Strengthening Judicial lndependence and lmpartiality it is stated that “On/y an independent and impartial judiciary can provide the basis for the fair and just reso/ution of Jegal disputes, particu/arly those between the individua/ and the State. ln this context, it is recal/ed that al/ member States have undertaken, under Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to guarantee access to independent and impartial tribunais, whenever civil rights or obligations are in issue or criminai charges are to be determined; and in respect of which the European Court of Human Rights has developed a wide jurisprudence. (… ) lt is of primordial importance that judicial independence and impartiality exists in fact and is secured by Jaw, and that public confidence in the judiciary, where it has been fast, is restored and maintained.”
Among other measures, the Plan of Action requires States to ensure comprehensive and effective training of the judiciary in effective judicial competences and ethics.
At European Union (EU) level, the 2020 Rule of Law report stated that “Effective justice systems are essential for upho/ding the rule of Jaw. lndependence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the mode/ of the national Jegal system and tradition in which it is anchored. (… )The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. (… ) Despite reform efforts in a number of Member States to enhance judicial independence, developments raise concerns in a few of them.”
Judges, prosecutors, and lawyers occupy a critical and sensitive place in society; the way they conduct themselves directly impacts on public confidence and on the administration of justice. Therefore, they have a duty to maintain the highest of ethical behavior.
There are international standards providing guidance on ethical conduct and on the core principles of these professions. lndependence, impartiality and integrity underpin the rule of law in a healthy democracy and guarantee the protection of human rights.
To address these issues, the HELP course on “Ethics for Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers” covers in an interactive way the key concepts and principles, the International and European (CoE and EU) framework as well as the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). lt is aimed at deepening the knowledge and understanding of professional tools and at developing reflective skills, based on practical examples, to address ethical dilemmas in the performance of professional duties.
The European Bars Federation (FBE), which represents 250 member Bars of Europe and their 1-million-member lawyers, taking into consideration the lawyers’ protests that erupted in Romania in recent months, as a result of the judicial decision of the ~Baneasa Farm~ case, expresses its grave concerns for the severe violation of the lawyers’ rights and of the rule of law, through:
Romanian authorities are demanding that the rights of lawyers and their independence, and the rule of law be respected, according to the Resolution 23488 (2020) and Recommendation 2188 (2020) of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.