Progressive Lawyers Association president detained by Turkish police

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Selçuk Kozağaçlı, president of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD)

İstanbul police on Wednesday detained lawyer Selçuk Kozağaçlı, president of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), which was shut down by a government decree issued during an ongoing state of emergency in Turkey, bringing the number of lawyers in police custody to 17, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported, based on a news story on turkeypurge.com.

Eight lawyers have been under police custody since Nov. 1 in Kastamonu, and a lawyer has been in detention since Nov. 2 in Batman. According to the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, seven female attorneys were detained in the province of Erzurum on Wednesday.

Kozağaçlı represents Turkish educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who started a hunger strike to protest their dismissal under state of emergency decree-laws issued after a failed coup in Turkey last year. Özakça tweeted on Wednesday that along with other 15 lawyers, Kozağaçlı had been taken into custody by police.

Kozağaçlı, who has also represented the Soma mine disaster victims and many other persecuted people, had revealed during the Ankara Bar Association’s general assembly on Oct. 16 2016 that people imprisoned as part of a government crackdown on the Gülen movement are being systematically tortured in the most barbaric ways including rape, removal of nails and the insertion of objects into their anuses.

According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 555 lawyers have been arrested since July 15, 2016 and 1,433 lawyers were under prosecution as of Oct. 27, 2017. Sixty-two lawyers have received lengthy prison sentences thus far. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are  presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.

Former Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ in May 2017 said more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed from the judiciary over links to the Gülen movement and that none of the remaining judges and prosecutors have been left uninvestigated. However, according to the t24 news website, the government has dismissed 4,238 of Turkey’s 14,661 judges and prosecutors since July 15, 2016.

A comprehensive report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in the Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.

In addition to jailing thousands of judges and prosecutors, Turkey has also imprisoned hundreds of human rights defenders and lawyers, making it extremely difficult for detainees to access a lawyer in violation of a due process and fair trial protections under the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedure.

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