I am sending you this correspondence in my capacity as President of the European Bars Federation (FBE), which represents more than 800,000 European lawyers from the Council of Europe.
The European Bars Federation is extremely concerned about the fate of Turkish lawyers currently detained during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scientific community agrees that detention centers are particularly exposed to the dramatic consequences of the pandemic. This virus spreads very quickly in a confined environment.
Furthermore, the conditions of detention weaken the health of those exposed to it, thus enabling the rapid circulation of infectious diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in a report on March 15, 2020, that people deprived of their liberty are infinitely more likely to be infected than those who are free.
The right to life, which cannot be derogated from, is enshrined in article 6.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides: “The right to life is inherent in the human person. This right must be protected by law. No one can be arbitrarily deprived of life. This right applies in all circumstances, including in situations of emergency or armed conflict.
Your country has courageously decided to order the release of very large numbers of detainees, taking into account the pandemic and the risk particularly incurred in prison. Lawyers cannot be excluded from this decision.
Indeed, article 26 of the same Covenant provides that: “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this regard, the law must prohibit all discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against any discrimination, in particular of race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion and any other opinion of national or social origin, of fortune, of birth or of any other situation.
Article 10 of the Turkish Constitution provides for a completely comparable provision. I would therefore ask you to do everything in your power to ensure that the Turkish lawyers currently detained can benefit from the measures which will be adopted with a view to releasing many prisoners, their quality as lawyers cannot justify continued detention in this pandemic period.
Thank you for your attention to this correspondence, and please accept, Minister, the assurance of my respectful consideration.
President of the Europen Bars Federation (FBE)