Italian Bar Council slams Turkish government over arrested lawyers

After German Federal Bar, the Italian Bar Council (Consiglio Nazionale Forense) has also slammed Turkish government over arrested and persecuted lawyers in a letter sent by the Italian Bar Council’s President Andrea Mascherin to Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ.

In his letter, Mascherin has expressed his strongest condemnation for the closure of associations of lawyers an the arrest of many lawyers in Turkey and asks to Justice Minister Bozdağ to act in full compliance with the principles of fair process recognized by international agreementsand also base on evidence lawfully acquired in full compliance with procedural rules.

The Italian Bar Council represents about 250.000 lawyers registered to 139 Bars and Law Societies of Italian cities.

On the behalf of the Bar Council, President Mascherin has also asked that lawyers be guaranteed the freedom of association in Turkey and to be assured the free exercise of the profession. Since the declaration of the emergency rule in Turkey after failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, 29 lawyers’ associations have been shut down by the government. All assets of these associations have been also seized without compensation.

According to data compiled by ‘Arrested Lawyers Initiative’, 301 lawyers are currently in jail and arrest warrants have been issued by courts about more than 100 lawyers in Turkey. Moreover, 725 lawyers are currently under legal investigation. The list of arrested lawyers includes current or former presidents of bar associations. Head of 10 local or regional bar associations are currently in jail. Besides of arbitrary mass arrests and detentions lawyers are under the threat of systematic torture and ill-treatment in Turkey.

Protesting the arrest of Italian lawyer Barbara Spinelli, who was permanently expelled from Turkey and repatriated with a flight to Bologna following deprivation of her liberty for 17 hours at Atatürk Airport in İstanbul on January 13, 2017, Mascherin stated that the arrest of Spinelli and the measure of permanent expulsion are totally unjustified.

Lawyer Barbara Spinelli from the Court of Bologna was travelling to Ankara to take part in an international conference entitled “The Judicial System Under The State of Emergency in Turkey” scheduled for 14 and 15 January 2017.

Stating that he sent a letter to the Italian Foreign Minister Angelio Alfano and to the Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando, Mascherin said in his letter that “Spinelli is engaged along with other lawyers in representing the institutions and Italian bar associations in missions monitoring the respect for human rights and the rights to defense in Turkey and certainly it will not be these episodes to stop the action of the Italian Bar, that on the contrary draws further incentive and motivation to continue with determination in the activities of protection of citizens in every part of the world.”

Previously, Ekkehart Schaffer, the President of the German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer), which represents 28 German Bars and entire legal profession in Germany, had sent a harsh letter to Justice Minister Bozdağ and asked to take all necessary measures to guarantee that lawyers in Turkey are able to perform their professional duties without fear of intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference.

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