Lawyers of the Kobani Case: Legal defence is under grave threat

English translation of the statement released by the lawyers of the Kobani Case, 18 November 2021

It is clear that, with their statements and speeches, the ruling party and its partners, spokespersons and members have created intense political pressure on the Ankara 22 High Criminal Court, which is hearing the Kobani case, and have thus violated the Constitution. The continuation of proceedings without adequate breaks in order to reach a conclusion quickly, the rejection of almost all demands made by the defence lawyers, and the sudden change of the head of the court, all demonstrate the illegality of the proceedings.

The Ankara 22 High Criminal Court set a case schedule with two-week hearings and one-week breaks. The politicians on trial, and we as their lawyers, have presented our excuses to the court for not attending the hearings on the grounds that this timetabling clearly violates the Right to a Fair Trial guaranteed in Article 36 of the Turkish Constitution and Article 6 of the ECHR. In response, at the hearing on 11 November 2021, the prosecution gave an opinion to file a criminal complaint against the lawyers. The court gave an interim decision, stating “It has been decided to REJECT the demand of lawyers and defendants for not attending the hearings, and to notify for further actions the lawyers who once again did not attend the hearings without a valid excuse”.

It is generally understood that the right to a fair trial implies the freedom to seek justice. In addition, defendants must be listened to, and their defence taken into consideration by the court. They must be able to see all the evidence against them and have the right to speak out against this evidence. And they must be able to present and collect evidence for their defence. 

In order to exercise these rights, individuals have the right to choose their advocates and benefit from the assistance of these advocates. This right is the most important part of the right to a fair trial, and the lawyer performing the duty of defence is the most important element in ensuring a fair trial. The defence lawyer also performs the judicial function pursuant to the Article 6 of the Turkish Penal Code.

We would like to reiterate that the legal profession provides the guarantee of the right to defence, the right to a fair trial, and the freedom to seek justice. Bar associations, as the professional organisations of lawyers, are also the guarantee of human rights, freedoms and the rule of law. For this reason, no one’s freedom is guaranteed in a society where lawyers cannot be free and effective. No person or institution should be able to prevent or threaten the defence lawyer from performing his or her duty.

We call on all bar associations, professional organisations and colleagues to support us, the lawyers of the case, and help us to speak out and fight against the increasing threats and attacks perpetrated on defence lawyers and the legal profession, which are among the founding elements of the judiciary. The defence is under grave threat.

We, the lawyers of the Kobani Case, reaffirm our determination to fight against these attitudes and understandings. The public should be aware of our determination to defend the state of law, the right to a fair trial, the possibility of defence, our profession and the defendants. We invite every defence lawyer and all Bar Associations to protect their professional honour against these threats by the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court and by the prosecution and join a protest on 29 November at 10:00 in Sincan Prison Campus. 

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