Barristers seek action from President Erdogan on Turkey’s Day of the Lawyer

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The Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) have sent a letter to President Erdogan of Turkey urging immediate action by Turkish authorities to protect lawyers and safeguard the rule of law in Turkey.

The letter comes as Turkey marks its annual Day of the Lawyer on 5 April amid continued reports of the detention, prosecution and sentencing of legal professionals throughout Turkey.  Since the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, it is understood that 275 Turkish lawyers have been sentenced to a cumulative total of nearly 1800 years in prison and many more are awaiting trial.

The letter, which has been copied to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, raises concern that the persecution of lawyers in Turkey undermines the independence of the legal profession, threatens to silence critical voices and endangers human rights protection.

The Bar Council and BHRC call upon the Government of Turkey to:

  1. Cease the arbitrary arrest, detention and wrongful prosecution of lawyers
  2. Ensure and safeguard the independence of the legal profession and uphold its obligations under international law
  3. Reinstate in office those wrongly detained, prosecuted and dismissed from their posts.

Chair of the Bar Council, Richard Atkins QC said:

“Lawyers, wherever they practise, must be free to carry out their professional obligations without fear of persecution. We take this opportunity on the Turkish “Day of the Lawyer” to remind the Turkish Government of its obligations under international law in relation to the treatment of lawyers.”

Chair of BHRC, Schona Jolly QC stated:

“BHRC has been raising concerns about the treatment of lawyers and judges in Turkey, which appear to be meeting no discernible improvement. The independence of the legal profession is a fundamental platform upon which the rule of law is built. Continued threats to the profession destroy confidence in the legal system, in access to justice and in the rule of law itself. Turkey must ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional duties without fear of harassment and interference. The international community must now place pressure on Turkey to comply with its international obligations.”

The full letter is available here. 

The response from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is available here.




  1. Further information and spokes people available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7611 1399 and [email protected]. For an interview with the BHRC spokesperson, please contact Amanda June Chadwick, Executive Officer, on [email protected] or +44 (0)7854 197862.
  1. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:
  • The Bar’s high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
  • Fair access to justice for all
  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.
  1. The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.
  1. For more information on the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), visit
  1. The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales, working to protect the rights of advocates, judges and human rights defenders around the world. BHRC is concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial.


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