During the discussions Mr Erinç Sağkan – President of the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations spoke about the current state of the rule of law in Turkey and necessary measures for reform. He outlined the recent history of measures taken to undermine the profession and standing of defence lawyers in Turkey, including that of the dismantling of the bars associations in Turkey. He stressed the need to reform the Council of Judges and Prosecutors and denounced the statement made a day earlier by Turkey’s Interior Ministry who had warned of imminent operations against Turkey’s lawyers for defending clients, be they journalists or otherwise, who are being tried on terror-related charges. Mr Sağkan emphasised the importance of the CCBE’s current development of a charter to cover universal legal standards and its relevance to Turkey at this time.
Following this, Lawyer Şerife Ceren Uysal – PEN Norway Legal Adviser on Turkey presented PEN Norway’s Turkey Indictment project and outlined the need for training in ECHR law and indictment writing for Turkey’s judges and prosecutors. She also outlined the indictment reports that PEN Norway are working on in 2023.
On the the reinstatement of a free media, detention of Kurdish journalists and Kurdish linguistic rights, journalist, author and human rights defender Ms Nurcan Baysal spoke about the wave of arrests in the past year of Kurdish journalists. She stressed the need for training in Turkey in investigative journalism and mentioned the continuing problem of the issuing of press cards. Ms Baysal talked about her work in the earthquake zone in Turkey and the arrests on 24 April of Mesopotamya News Agency (MA) editor Abdurrahman Gök, the agency’s editor Ahmet Kanbal, Yeni Yaşam newspaper Editor-in-Chief Osman Akın, Xwebün news outlet’s owner Kadri Esen, women-run newspaper Jinnews’ reporter Beritan Canözer and journalists Mehmet Yalçın and Mikail Barut.
Closing the event, Ms Caroline Stockford, PEN Norway Turkey Adviser presented PEN Norway’s survey on the lack of provision of Kurdish language interpretation in the court room in Turkey and spoke about the continuing arrests of Kurdish journalists and the potential structure and training needs for free and independent journalism in Turkey post-election.
The roundtable took the form of a strategic discussion on the future of the rule of law and press freedom in Turkey and PEN Norway distributed their last four major publications:
Those of the Turkey Indictment Project Reports 2020 and 2021, the Defending Gezi report and PEN Norway’s 11 recent interviews with politicians in Turkey. These reports may be accessed here:
11 politicians’ interviews booklet
TIP 2020, TIP 2021