12 recent Turkish indictments against human rights activists, journalists and cultural workers are being examined in a new project.

 

Register here for our global launch by emailing your name and company name to caroline@norskpen.no.  Invitees will be capped at 100 participants.

Do the indictments in the Gezi Park trial, Cumhuriyet trial or against Ahmet Altan meet international legal standards?

Working with lawyers and judges from all over Europe, PEN Norway has commissioned a series of reports into indictments that have taken place during the past 5 years in cases against the media, human rights activists and civil society in Turkey.

Following our trial observations of the past few years, we were deeply concerned at the standard of indictment-writing in a large number of cases, specifically such trials as that of Gezi Park – Osman Kavala et al – and the Cumhuriyet newspaper trial. The length of these indictments, at 657 and 256 pages respectively, led us to have concerns that defendantscases were being held up for a considerable time whilst these indictments were being written. In Osman Kavala’s case as long as 14 months, says PEN Norway’s Turkey Adviser and project lead Caroline Stockford.

12 indictment cases

PEN Norway has since Spring 2020 brought together legal experts from five different countries, including Norway, Austria and the United Kingdom, as well as academics and experts on the ground in Turkey to study indictments in 12 cases. PEN Norway has further commissioned articles on the history of and current state of the judicial system in Turkey as well as the mapping of the legal appeals process.

The study asks whether these indictments meet Turkish and international standards. We have brought on a team of excellent international lawyers and scholars with great knowledge of the law and Turkish society to examine 12 recent indictments, says Caroline Stockford.

Unique opportunity

The project will culminate in a final report which will put forward recommendations for streamlining and improving the standard of indictments in Turkey.

This project is a unique opportunity to thoroughly look at the Turkish legal practice today. Legal organizations in and outside of Turkey have been increasingly worried about the judicial system for years. The crackdown on free speech in Turkey in the past few years has been a great cause for concern, General Secretary of PEN Norway, Hege Newth says.

We are eager to hear the findings from our experts on whether these indictments meet a satisfying standard, and hope the recommendations from the project will be listened to, says Newth.

The reports will be published weekly from mid-September until the end of the year, beginning with a report on the case of journalist Nedim Türfent, now serving a prison sentence of 8 years, 9 months over one newspaper article. Forthcoming reports are on the indictments of Osman Kavala and Defendants in the Gezi Park trial, Deniz Yücel, the Cumhuriyet case, Pelin Ünker, Çiğdem Toker and the Amnesty Büyükada indictment.

Global launch event

On September 30, 2020 PEN Norway will hold the global launch of our Turkey Indictment Project 2020. At this event, we have invited two panels of distinguished experts from Europe and Turkey to discuss the current crisis in the rule of law and avenues for practical and effective advocacy to mitigate the further erosion of the rule of law and profession of defense lawyers in Turkey.

For more information on our global launch event, which will feature two panels of experts discussing the current state of Turkey’s judicial system and the role and future of advocacy in Turkey and Europe, please contact: caroline@norskpen.no.

Register here for our global launch by emailing your name and company name to caroline@norskpen.no. Invitees will be capped at 100 participants.

The project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.