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Concerns about access to the legal profession and increasing disbarments of lawyers in Turkey

20 July 2021

The Netherlands Helsinki Committee, along with six human rights organisations, is concerned about the increasing pressure on future generations of lawyers in Turkey. Lawyers in Turkey are operating in an increasingly challenging and hostile environment since the 2016 coup attempt. Lawyers continue to be subjected to smear campaigns, threats and judicial harassment, including collective arrests, surveillance, and persecution. Additionally, those under investigation, prosecution, or dismissal by emergency decree, are prevented from enrolling in law apprenticeships and/or obtaining their license to practice law in Turkey; hindering future lawyers from accessing the legal profession. Even though such hinderance is not new in Turkey, it has considerably increased since the state of emergency was imposed in the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt.

In every healthy democracy, lawyers play a vital role in the protection of the rule of law and human rights. The practices of the Turkish government hinder the much-needed lawyers, critical of the government, from entering the profession, and ensuring effective access to justice for all in Turkey. Because of this worrisome trend, we call on the Turkish authorities to respect the rights of all lawyers and guarantee that:

  • all existing and future lawyers have fair access to practise the legal profession.
  • are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; and
  • lawyers are not subject to disbarment or other disciplinary measures on improper grounds.

Read the joint statement here.