FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Aytaç Ünsal, the statement

With great concern the Federation of European Bars has learned that Mr. Aytaç Ünsal has been arrested again after his release on the 3rd of September 2020.  Aytaç Ünsal is now kept in solitary confinement in Erdine F-Type closed prison.

We were informed that the current health situation and the conditions in which Aytaç Ünsal is kept are of major concern. He has open wounds near his eyes, and he was exposed to physical violence resulting in suffering from pain and a burning sensation in his legs (which are swollen) and he is not allowed to take his medicine for neuropathy disease which he is suffering because of the damage resulting from the hunger strike.

The FBE is deeply concerned about the health condition of Aytaç Ünsal and we urge the Turkish authorities to ensure that Aytaç Ünsal will receive all necessary medical treatment while imprisoned. The FBE also urges Turkey to ensure Aytaç Ünsal will get a fair trial according to the International Treaties  that have been ratified by Turkey and that are supposed to ensure every citizen of the country is treated equally with respect to the universal and basic human rights every human must be granted.

 

Artur Wierzbicki

On behalf of Human Rights Commission FBE

International Fair Trial Day and the Ebru Timtik Award – Hold the Date – 14 June, 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.

We are writing at this stage to advise you of this initiative and to invite your organisation to support International Fair Trial Day and attend the conference. Further details of the programme and of the speakers who will address the conference will follow over the next few months. For now, we would ask you to hold the date to recognise what we hope will be an important annual event and prize-giving on the international rule of law calendar.

REMINDER TO THE BAR MEMBERS – FBE MEDIATION COMMISSION

Dear President, Dear Colleague,

I am contacting you as President of the Mediation Commission of the European Bars Federation (FBE) in relation with the research being carried out from the Barcelona Bar Association since 2018. This work consisted of a comparison of different laws and mediation regulations that exist within the different Members of the FBE.

We would like to thank the Bars who, within the framework of this project, sent us the legislation in mediation. With all the information that was gathered, analyzed and synthesized, we are planning on proceeding with the second phase of the project. However, in order to fully complete the research, collaboration from your Bar is essential.

The ultimate objectives are to produce a comprehensive report that provides a holistic view of the mediation in Europe, the main challenges facing it and possible solutions.

With these aims in mind, we have prepared a questionnaire, which you will find attached to the present email. This questionnaire is structured into three sections, with the intention of collecting concrete and concise information in order to complete this second phase of the project.

We would be grateful if your Bar could kindly cooperate in answering this questionnaire before July 31st, 2020, so that we can begin working on the final report to be presented on the occasion of our General Congress to be held in Paris next 1-2 October.

We sincerely look forward to your responses.

Thank you very much for your collaboration.

With kind regards.

Mª Eugènia Gay
President

VIRTUAL MEETING FESTIVITY OF SANT RAIMON DE PENYAFORT TROBADES DE BARCELONA – Memorial Jacques HENRY, Barcelona, 29 January 2021

VIRTUAL MEETING FESTIVITY OF SANT RAIMON DE PENYAFORT TROBADES DE BARCELONA – Memorial Jacques HENRY, Barcelona, 29 January 2021

FAKE NEWS & PRIVACY: A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE

Webinar “Trobades de Barcelona, Memorial Jacques Henry”, which took place last 29 January, in collaboration of the European Bars Federation (FBE)

11th DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER – 24th January 2021 – AZERBAIJAN : The struggle to protect Azerbaijani lawyers – Petition

The DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER is commemorated each year on 24 January.

On that Day, 24 January 1977 four trade union lawyers and an employee were murdered in their office in Madrid, Spain, simply for doing their job. One of the killers escaped on a permit granted by the investigating judge before the trial. Another, sentenced to 193 years, escaped while on parole and is at large. The third one, with the same sentence, escaped while on parole, has been extradited from Brazil and recently released. The fourth, sentenced to 63 years, died in prison. All of them were associated with extreme right-wing parties.

This year, on 24 January 2021 we will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer.

In past years, the Day has focused on the following countries: China, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, Iran, Pakistan, The Philippines, Spain/Basque Country, Turkey.

On this special day, the organizers ask their international colleagues to 1) raise awareness about the number of lawyers who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, and in some countries tortured and murdered for their work as lawyers; and 2) initiate, or further develop a national discussion about ways to protect lawyers.

FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – “Free Aytac Ünsal Now”

The Federation of European Bars (FBE) is gravely concerned at receiving news from our colleagues in Turkey following present situation of Aytac Ünsal, who participated in the hunger strike with Ebru Timtik and now has been arrested again on 10th December, Human Rights Day. The health situation of Aytac Unsal is seriously in danger. He is in medical care currently.

Lawyer Aytaç Ünsal was arrested after the postponement of execution of sentence was lifted, despite the expert report which stated that he cannot stay in prison for health reasons. He is currently being taken to Edirne F-Type Prison without even being taken to the courthouse.

The FBE joins with the international legal community in condemning this arrest and calls for his immediate release without further persecution.

The independence and freedom of lawyers must be respected according to international standards and it this applies to Aytac Ünsal as well.

FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUMAN RIGHTS DAY, DECEMBER 10, 2020

Human Rights Day commemorates the day the General Assembly of the UN adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR is one of UN’s major achievements as well as the first enunciation of human rights across the world.

Adopted on the 10th December 1948, the Declaration stipulates universal values and a shared standard of achievement for everyone in every country. While the Declaration is not a binding document, it inspired over 60 human rights instruments that today make a common standard of human rights. It is the most translated document around the globe available in over 500 languages.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.

“Human Rights Day is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want, with global solidarity, interconnectedness and shared humanity.”

  

On behalf of the FBE Human Rights Commission,

Artur Wierzbicki

President of the Human Rights Commision of FBE

FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – “ISTANBUL CONVENTION” and The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is a human rights treaty of the Council of Europe against violence against women and domestic violence which was opened for signature on 11 May 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. The convention aims at prevention of violence, victim protection and to end the impunity of perpetrators. As of March 2019, it has been signed by 45 countries and the European Union. On 12 March 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the convention, followed by 33 other countries from 2013 to 2019.

The preamble recalls the European Convention on Human Rights, European Social Charter and Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings as well as international human rights treaties by United Nations and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Istanbul Convention is the first legally-binding instrument which “creates a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women” and is focused on preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and prosecuting accused offenders.

It characterizes violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination (Art.3(a)). Countries should exercise due diligence when preventing violence, protecting victims and prosecuting perpetrators (Art. 5). The convention also contains a definition of gender: for the purpose of the Convention gender is defined in Article 3(c) as “the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men”. Moreover, the treaty establishes a series of offences characterized as violence against women. States which ratify the Convention must criminalize several offences, including: psychological violence (Art.33); stalking (Art.34); physical violence (Art.35); sexual violence, including rape, explicitly covering all engagement in non-consensual acts of a sexual nature with a person (Art.36), forced marriage (Art.37); female genital mutilation (Art.38), forced abortion and forced sterilisation (Art.39). The Convention states that sexual harassment must be subject to “criminal or other legal sanction” (Art. 40). The convention also includes an article targeting crimes committed in the name of so-called “honour” (Art. 42).

On December 17, 1999, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the UN General Assembly. Each year observances around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women concentrate on a particular theme, such as “Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles” (historically, on November 25, 1960, three sisters, Patria Mercedes Mirabal, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on the orders of the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. The Mirabel sisters fought hard to end Trujillo’s dictatorship. Activists on women’s rights have observed a day against violence on the anniversary of the deaths of these three women since 1981).

The Istanbul Convention is the most progressive and ambitious international human rights treaty targeting the elimination of violence against women.

We do agree with it, do you?

  

On behalf of the FBE Human Rights Commission,

Artur Wierzbicki

President of the Human Rights Commision of FBE