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




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.


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.


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


The Federation of European Bars (FBE) with its Human Rights Commission fully supports below The International Call to the Turkish Authorities.

As you know, 28th of November marks the 5th anniversary of the killing of Tahir Elci.

The FBE joins with the international legal community with full awareness and respect to the enclosed statement.

 On behalf of the FBE Human Rights Commission,

Artur Wierzbicki

President of the Human Rights Commision of FBE




“Case concerning the killing of Tahir Elçi and lack of effective investigation into his death

 The undersigned organisations have been following recent developments in the case involving the prosecution of police officers allegedly involved in the killing of human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi in November 2015. We are concerned that the prosecution, as well as the court before which this case is being heard, fails to respect fair trial rights. We are further troubled by the Turkish authorities’ continued violation of Turkey’s international legal obligations to carry out a prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation into the death of one of its citizens and to ensure a fair trial by an impartial and independent tribunal for those accused of the killing of Tahir Elçi. The first hearing in this case, as described below, raises significant doubts that proceedings will be independent, impartial, and capable of establishing the facts and truth around the killing of Mr. Elçi and holding accountable those responsible for that killing, in accordance with international law binding on Turkey, as well as the 2016 United Nations (UN) Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions (Minnesota Protocol) on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death.[1]

We are also concerned that the rights of the family of Tahir Elçi have not been respected during the criminal proceedings, as required by the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure. Mr. Elçi’s family members have not been assured of their right to full and effective remedies and a fair trial, as guaranteed by Turkey’s international obligations, including access to justice and reparations as set out in the Minnesota Protocol.[2]



Tahir Elçi was a prominent figure within the international and domestic lawyers’ community. He had practiced law for around 25 years. At the time of his death, he was the President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. He was well known for having acted for victims in a number of leading cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning, for example, the forced evictions of Kurdish villages, enforced disappearances, summary executions, and torture and ill-treatment by the security and/or state-affiliated forces. [3] Through his work on these cases, he contributed to the ECtHR’s case-law, especially on the right to life and prohibition of torture. Throughout his personal and professional life, he fought against impunity and contributed to this struggle significantly. In addition to his work before the ECtHR, he was engaged with, and in some cases was a founding member of, several prominent non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey and Amnesty International Turkey. He has received several prestigious awards nationally and internationally.

On 12 October 2015, during a TV interview, he shared his views on the Kurdish issue and the end of the peace process on a national channel, CNN Turk. Following his interview, he received numerous death threats and insults through social media and telephone. Government supporters and pro-government media appeared to start a campaign of intimidation and harassment against him. A few days later, after a request from the Bakırköy Public Prosecutor, an arrest warrant was issued against him by the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Judgeship of Peace. He was arrested and subsequently charged with an alleged offence of “propagandising for a terrorist organisation through the press,” which carries a sentence of imprisonment of up to 7.5 years. [4]

During the summer of 2015, violent clashes occurred between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish state forces in south-eastern Turkey. The government adopted stringent measures affecting the lives of thousands of civilians in the region and imposed 24-hour curfews in many cities, sometimes for months on end. Tahir Elçi, amongst others, commenced legal actions against the unlawful security measures of the government and its local administrative personnel. He also advocated to address the increasingly violent situation in the region. As a part of these activities, as the president of Diyarbakir Bar Association, he helped to organise a press conference to draw attention to the damage inflicted on the cultural and historic heritage in the region during the armed clashes. The press conference took place in front of a historic minaret damaged by security operations on the morning of 28 November 2015. During this conference, an armed clash took place between two armed PKK militia members and the police, during which Tahir Elçi was shot dead. His killing was publicly denounced by the international community.[5]

Despite assurances given by the Prime Minister, Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, that four investigators had been assigned to the case, no independent effective investigation was carried out. Notwithstanding the fact that the police officers at the scene should have been regarded as suspects, the police themselves carried out the investigations. The current prosecution did not begin until after a London based group, Forensic Architecture, published its report on the incident in February 2019. This report concluded, after a detailed forensic investigation of the video footage of the scene at the time Mr. Elçi was killed, that three police officers were engaged in active shooting at the time of the killing and that:

“- Tahir Elçi was killed when he was struck by a single bullet fired within the time frame of 7 seconds and 12 frames (07:12), at approximately 10:55 am on 28 November 2015. 

– Neither of the two PKK members appear to have fired the fatal shot. 

– All of the shots fired in the investigative time frame have similar sonic signatures and show no auditory evidence of a long-range weapon fired from a considerably different distance. 

– Three police officers (A, C, and D) had a direct line of fire towards Elçi, and are seen discharging their weapons multiple times. Of them, police officer C is the only officer who discharges his weapon with a clear, unobstructed view towards Elçi.” [6]  

Following the publication of the Forensic Architecture report, the prosecutor was left with little choice than to indict the 3 police officers named in the report as the potential perpetrators. However, we are concerned about a number of aspects of this indictment:

  • The indictment has many serious flaws, e.g., in its determination of the events, legal classification of the acts, and sentencing request against the police officers.
  • Regarding the determination of events, it is suggested in the indictment that the situation of general chaos at the time of the shooting made it impossible to identify who fired the shot which killed Tahir Elçi. The prosecutor postulates that it was possible that one of the militants could have fired the shot and prosecutes the militant for intentional homicide. This conclusion is in direct contradiction to the findings of the Forensic Architects report which found that “none of the forty gunshots that are visible or audible during the period of the shooting (during which time multiple cameras were recording the scene) were fired by the two PKK militants. Rather, the only shots that could have been that which killed Elçi were fired by one of the three officers we identified.”[7]
  • Under the Turkish Penal Code, intentional homicide requires life-time imprisonment (Article 81) while under aggravated circumstances, it can be sentenced with aggravated life-time imprisonment (Article 82), which includes additional restrictions in prison. In cases of homicide with malice these sentences are reduced to at least 20 years imprisonment for Article 81 and life-time imprisonment for Article 82 (with Article 21(2)). In the indictment, however, the prosecution charged the 3 police officers under Article 85(1) of the Penal Code instead of Article 81 or 82 and legally classified  the acts committed as  “negligent homicide” which provides that: “Any person who causes the death of a person by negligent conduct is punished with imprisonment from two years to six years.”
  • The prosecutor requested the court to apply Article 22(3) of the Penal Code which requires that: “Where an act of person creates the legal consequence defined in the laws beyond his will, this is considered as intentional negligence; in such case, the punishment imposed for the negligent act is increased from one third to one half.” We are concerned that the prosecutor’s classification of offense on which to prosecute the police (Article 85(1) with 22(3) of the Penal Code) does not correspond with the seriousness of the offence committed and its grave consequences.

We are also concerned that due process may not be followed  forthcoming hearings of the trial of the officers and that the rights of Mr. Elçi and his family may not be respected during the proceedings. These concerns are based on several serious violations of due process that took place during the first hearing. The first hearing took place on 21 October 2020 at 10 am, before the Diyarbakir 10th Heavy Penal Court.  


The lawyers representing the Elçi family argued in their submission to the court that (inter alia):

  • Following the interview on CNN Turk, Tahir Elçi received several serious death threats. The State was under the obligation to protect him, but it failed to do so. 
  • The case file reveals that the two suspects who were affiliated with the PKK had been closely followed by the police in Diyarbakır on the day of the incident and their movements had been known to the police before the incident.
  • Neither Tahir Elçi nor other lawyers from the Diyarbakır Bar Association at the scene had been warned about a potential operation in the same area against suspects who were likely armed.
  • The security forces planned and carried out the operation against the two suspects without proper regard for the safety of the public who were present nor did they take necessary measures to mitigate potential harm to civilians. 
  • The police officers at the scene did not use their firearms carefully and diligently. They did not take necessary measures to protect the lives of the civilians around them and they did not warn people to hide for their own safety. If the planning of the operation to catch the two suspects had been done properly, Tahir Elçi still would be alive. 
  • The onsite investigation was not carried out promptly as required by the Minnesota Protocol,[8] but only 110 days after the death of Tahir Elçi (between 17 and 18 March 2016). According to the prosecution, the reason for this delay was the ongoing armed clashes in the area. The crucial evidence from the scene, including the bullet that killed Tahir Elçi, disappeared during this time. This represents a significant failure of Turkish authorities to preserve evidence and to carry out an effective, transparent, and prompt investigation into the death of Tahir Elçi as required by Turkey’s international legal obligations.
  • Other serious defects in the investigation included that the police officers who were at the scene and fired their guns were not questioned as suspects by the prosecutor until early 2020, more than four years after the killing. In addition, several apparent inconsistencies in the statements of those investigated were not adequately followed up by the prosecution. The prosecutor also refused to hear several witnesses put forward by the lawyers of Tahir Elçi’s family and did not summon the police officers who were responsible for the planning and execution of the operation and monitoring of the press conference. 
  • The video recordings from the security cameras around the scene and the MOBESSE (police security cameras in the area) were tampered with or not obtained. Several crucial recordings were either missing or the relevant parts covering the time of the killing have been deleted.
  • The expert reports the prosecutor obtained, e.g., from the forensic medicine institute, claimed that the time of the death of Mr. Elçi could not be determined and the suspects could not be identified. However, the expert reports obtained by the Elçi family’s lawyers, e.g., the report of the Forensic Architecture and a forensic medicine expert, reached a contrary conclusion on both matters. 
  • The 5-year delay in the proceeding and the arbitrary rejection of the requests of the lawyers representing the Elçi family indicate the authorities’ failure to carry out a genuine investigation in conformity  with the ECtHR’s case-law on the procedural obligations of the state with respect to the right to life.


The trial has been adjourned until 3 March 2021. However, the hearing before the Diyarbakir 10th Heavy Penal Court on 21 October 2020 was highly problematic:

  1. The court, among other requests, refused the request of the Elçi family’s lawyers to be heard at the beginning of the hearing. The court refused to allow Türkan Elçi, Tahir Elçi’s wife, to take the floor and submit her requests as the complainant. Without hearing the complainants and their request to become formal parties to the proceedings, the complainants could not question the suspect which is a right that is granted to them clearly under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  2. The court refused to hear the accused police officers in person, instead, insisting on hearing them through SEGBIS (an official video communication system).
  3. The suspects were not visible to the family of Tahir Elçi or his lawyers, because the small screen was too far away from them to be seen. There were several technical issues making it difficult to hear the statement of the suspects, and these technical issues were not resolved by the court, even upon request of the family’s lawyers.
  4. The court refused several times to allow the lawyers to speak and submit their requests. It threatened the lawyers and Mrs. Elçi that if they insisted on speaking, they would be expelled from the courtroom by force. 

The lawyers asked the judges to recuse themselves from hearing the case based on these occurrences during the hearing. However, the court did not rule on this request. Under the rules of procedure, before moving forward with the hearing, the court should have dealt with these requests as a matter of priority. 


A Call to the Turkish Authorities

This was the first hearing in what may be a protracted trial of the police officers accused of the homicide of Tahir Elçi. We call on the Turkish authorities to ensure that:

  1. The case is heard by an independent, impartial, and competent court that is capable of establishing the facts and truth around the killing of Mr. Elçi;
  2. All future hearings comply with international standards regarding the right to a fair trial, in which the victims’ rights are also recognised;
  3. The hostile attitude from the court towards the Elçi family and their lawyers and the court’s persistent refusal to follow the rules of procedure and principles of both domestic and international law are not repeated in future hearings;
  4. The lawyers for the Elçi family are given reasonable opportunities to be heard and to make their applications in relation to the procedure and the evidence;
  5. Where submissions are refused, reasons for refusal are given in accordance with the case law of the ECtHR;
  6. Following a fair judicial procedure, those who are responsible for Mr. Elçi’s killing are held accountable and serve sentences appropriate to the gravity of the crime committed; and
  7. Elçi’s family is provided with appropriate redress for the violations they and their loved one have suffered in accordance with the international obligations of Turkey and the Minnesota Protocol.


Amsterdam Bar Association, the Netherlands

Article 19

Article 21, Italy

Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the United Kingdom

Cartoonists Rights Network International

Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE)

Danish PEN 

The European Association of Lawyers (AEA-EAL)

European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH)

The European Bars Federation (FBE) and FBE Human Rights Commission

European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA)

Fair Trial Watch, the Netherlands

Gelderland Bar Association, the Netherlands

Geneva Bar Association, Switzerland

German Bar Association (DAV), Germany

Giuristi Democratici, Italy

The Group of International Legal Intervention (GIGI) 

The Hague Bar Association, the Netherlands

Human Rights in Practice, the Netherlands

The Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL)

The International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL)

The International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR)

Index on Censorship

International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)

The joint Presidents of the Local Bar Associations of the Netherlands

The Law Society of England and Wales, the United Kingdom

Lawyers for Lawyers, the Netherlands

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Canada

Limburg Bar Association, the Netherlands

Midden-Nederland Bar Association, the Netherlands

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers, South Africa

National Forensic Union M. G. A., Italy

National Lawyers Guild International Committee, the United States of America

Netherlands Helsinki Committee, the Netherlands

Noord-Holland Bar Association, the Netherlands

Noord-Nederland Bar Association, the Netherlands

Oost-Brabant Bar Association the Netherlands

Overijssel Bar Association, the Netherlands

Research Institute on Turkey, the United States of America

Rotterdam Bar Association, the Netherlands

Swiss Democratic Lawyers, Switzerland

Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, the United Kingdom

Zeeland-West-Brabant Bar Association, the Netherlands”



[1] UN OHCHR, The Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death 2016. The Revised United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, 2016, available at:

[2] Ibid, Para. 10.

[3] See;




[8] Minnesota Protocol, supra note 1, para. 10.

FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – “Human Rights for the Planet”

On Monday 5 October 2020, the European Court of Human Rights hosted a high-level conference entitled “Human Rights for the Planet”.

Both in person and online, participants looked at the rapidly-developing case-law on environmental issues of the Strasbourg court and other international tribunals. Speakers included the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Robert Spano, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

A number of the international legal standards developed by the Council of Europe – notably including the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats – have successfully been invoked to help make progress on environmental issues.

The European Court of Human Rights has so far ruled on some 300 environment-related cases, applying concepts such as the right to life, free speech and family life to a wide range of issues including pollution, man-made or natural disasters and access to environmental information.

The European Convention on Human Rights has also been used by campaigners at the national level to encourage governments to take further steps to tackle climate change and the degradation of the natural environment.

Successive Council of Europe presidencies, and various other parts of the organisation, have called for existing legal tools to be further strengthened in order to help European states deal with the considerable environmental challenges that we all face.


Statement by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet
5 October 2020

„I am pleased to address this important conference.

The climate crisis, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and pollution constitute some of humanity’s gravest challenges, contributing both directly and indirectly to human rights violations around the world.

As in the COVID-19 pandemic, the most affected are often those already in vulnerable situations. Indeed, intersecting environmental, health and socio-economic crises are reversing global development gains and placing people and planet under stress.

In the face of environmental harm and injustice, the law is one of our most effective tools to hold Governments to account, to uphold our rights and to protect human health and the Earth’s natural systems.

Consider the Council of Europe.

Neither the European Convention on Human Rights nor its Protocols bear any explicit reference to the environment.

However, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in nearly 300 cases related to environmental harms affecting the enjoyment of a broad range of human rights, such as the right to life and rights to private and family life. 

And, for its part, the European Committee of Social Rights has found that in the European Social Charter, the right to protection of health includes the right to a healthy environment.

The fundamental role of the Courts is to deliver justice through fair and effective application of existing laws and principles that place human dignity at their heart.

If the law does not explicitly address an issue, it is both proper and right for Courts to interpret and develop it in order to deliver justice, including through the innovative application of norms and standards at hand.

Even in the absence of an explicitly recognized right to a healthy environment in the European Convention on Human Rights, judicial systems have taken steps to protect people from environmental harms.
Take climate change.

According to the United in Science 2020 report launched last month, the five-year period since the signing of the Paris Agreement will be the hottest on human record.

The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, sea level rise and glacial melt, droughts and floods, coral bleaching, oceanic dead-zones and extensive wildfires severely affect countless lives and our natural systems.

Time is running out to keep global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We need urgent and ambitious climate action.

Yet around the world, Governments are still holding back.

The response have been clear. Millions have taken to the streets in climate marches and a cascade of lawsuits around the world have demanded more ambitious climate action now.

In one such case, the Urgenda Foundation v. Netherlands, the Dutch Supreme Court drew on the jurisprudence of the European Court and found climate change posed an imminent danger to the rights to life and to private and family life.

Taking into consideration the best available science and the full spectrum of international law, the Court ordered the Government of the Netherlands to undertake substantial, specific steps to increase its climate mitigation efforts.

The application of human rights law in the Urgenda decision empowers people across the States members of the Council of Europe to demand more of their governments to address the climate crisis.

It has further energized a rights-based movement for climate action not just in the Netherlands, but around the world.

A movement demanding the recognition of a safe and stable climate as a matter of right.

I stand by it and reiterate my call for global recognition and effective implementation of the human right to a healthy environment.

According to the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, more than 150 countries already recognize it, showing a growing legal and normative consensus.

The European Parliament has already called for all people in Europe to be granted the right to a healthy environment.

And three consecutive presidencies of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers have called for the elaboration of a legal instrument in the area of human rights and the environment.

Whether or not formally on the books, the right to a healthy environment is, in reality, a fundamental prerequisite for the enjoyment of all other rights.

Explicit recognition will lead to more effective laws and policies and promote accountability within judicial systems for their implementation.

Adopting a new protocol to the European Convention that explicitly recognizes such a right would be a major step in the right direction.

I trust you will lead the way.

Thank you.”


FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – “Free Diyarbakir Lawyers Now”

The Federation of European Bars (FBE) with its Human Rights Commission are gravely concerned at receiving news from our colleagues in Turkey following mass arrests carried out by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Diyarbakir on 20th November 2020.

Many lawyers and representatives of civil society organizations, including ÖHD co-chair Bünyamin Şeker, were detained during house raids carried out in Amed.

We understand that computers, books and many digital materials were confiscated during the house searches.

It was stated that detentions were part of the investigation numbered 2019/63324 against the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) launched by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2019. Those detained are accused of “establishing organizations in favour of an illegal organisation.”

The names of those taken into custody in Amed today are as follows: “Lawyers Bünyamin Şeker, Abdulkadir Güleç, Eshat Aktaç, Serdar Talay, İmran Gökdere, Diyar Çetedir, Serdar Özer, Feride Laçin, Gevriye Atlı, Resul Tamur, Cemile Turhallı Balsak, Ahmet Kalpak, Devrim Barış Baran, Neşet Girasun, Sedat Aydın, Şivan Cemil Özen and Haknas Sadak, MED prisoners’ families Solidarity and Legal Aid Associations Federation (TUHAD-FED) executive Diyar Dilek Özer and federation member Leyla Ayaz, former TTB Central Council member Şehmus Gökalp, DIVES member Süleyman Okur, Bağlar Municipality Council member Panayır Çelik, HDP Diyarbakır former provincial director Ilhami Yürek, dismissed SES member Ümit Çetinkaya, HABER-SEN member Mehmet Kaçar and Haknaz Sadak.

The FBE joins with the international legal community in condemning these arrests and calls on the Diyabakir Prosecutor’s Office to release those detained without further persecution.

The independence of lawyers must be respected according to international standards.


On behalf of the FBE Human Rights Commission,

Artur Wierzbicki

President of the Human Rights Commision of FBE