MEDEL published ‘Letters from Turkish Judiciary’ via its website as follows:
Marking the date of Giovanni Falcone’s assassination by the Mafia in 1992, MEDEL pronounced the 23rd of May as the alert day for the independence of justice in Europe. On this date, we are invited to reflect on the need for an independent and effective justice all over Europe and its importance for the safeguard of European citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms.
Very dark signs have arisen all over Europe in recent years, inside and outside the European Union. However, in no place as in Turkey did we witness such an orchestrated and premeditated campaign to completely destroy the independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law. Since the attempted Coup d’État of July 15th, 2016, all Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers who had constantly struggled for an independent justice have been persecuted, arrested, dismissed and have seen their property seized without any previous due process and with absolutely no guarantees of defense.
YARSAV, the free Turkish association of Judges and Prosecutors – member of MEDEL – has been administratively disbanded (a decision which MEDEL does not recognize) and its President, Murat Arslan (winner of the 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize) was dismissed and arrested, having been convicted in January 2019 to 10 years of imprisonment, after a process where all basic international standards of a due criminal process have been infringed.
During these years, MEDEL received many messages from colleagues, relatives and other sources, reporting what was happening to judges and prosecutors in Turkey. With the collaboration of its member associations, MEDEL is today publishing an ebook with a selection of those letters, translated in 12 different languages. These messages, gathered together without comments and modifications (apart from anonymizing them) provide for an impressive witnessing of the incredible acceleration of the falling of Rule of Law in Turkey.
As long as one single Turkish Judge or Prosecutor is imprisoned for his fight for an independent Judiciary, no Judge or Prosecutor elsewhere in Europe may feel completely free and independent.
As Murat Arslan said in his acceptance speech of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize: “I am speaking to you from a jail in a country where the rule of law is suspended, that moves far away from democratic values, where dissidents are silenced, human rights defenders, journalists, people asking for peace, people who shout out that children should not die are labeled as terrorists and jailed. (…) The price that we are paying just raises our faith in the coming days where the rule of law and democracy will be internalized”.
In addition, French judges association, Syndicat dela Megistrature shared this news via its website*:
More than three years have passed since the failed coup in July 2016 in Turkey.
From the first moments after the coup attempt, MEDEL began to receive alarming news about the arrest of judges and prosecutors, without the provision of a procedural guarantee or without evidence supporting these arrests.
MEDEL immediately reacted, indicating that it was difficult to understand how and why judges and prosecutors performing their daily duties could be involved in these facts and should face detention for their freedom of judgment and opinion.
Since then, the crackdown on judges and prosecutors (as well as lawyers, journalists, professors, police, parliamentarians and more than 100,000 civil servants), all accused of being affiliated with the terrorist organization held responsible by the Turkish government in charge of this crime has reached an unprecedented scale.
What was difficult at first to understand became clear: we were faced with an orchestrated and premeditated campaign, with the aim of destroying the independence of the judicial system in TURKEY.
MEDEL has received numerous messages from colleagues, their relatives and other sources about what happened to the judges and prosecutors in Turkey, who were respected professionals and did their work while sharing their opinions, experiences and commitments for values of democracy, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, with European colleagues and professional associations.
MEDEL believes that these messages, which directly describe what happened to thousands of colleagues, as well as the procedures adopted and their consequences, constitute an important source of information for assessing the attack on the Turkish judicial system.
MEDEL also considers that these messages, gathered without comments or changes (apart from their anonymisation), constitute an impressive testimony of the incredible acceleration of the fall of the rule of law in Turkey. With regard to their publication, MEDEL considered it appropriate to anonymize the messages, for security reasons, at the request of the senders.
Many of these messages contained notes containing elaborate commentary aimed at highlighting the illegality of post-coup measures. And, to that end, they cite general principles as well as the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. It was impossible to reproduce in this booklet much of the content of the letters. Be that as it may, we quote some of them to show how much these rules, these principles were and are rooted among Turkish lawyers, Turkish judges, Turkish prosecutors. They represent a common mother tongue belonging to each of us.
Thanks to that, with the help of our member associations, we publish translated letters in many languages.
MEDEL hopes that the continuation of the testimonies will be a sign of solidarity and a renewed commitment to the fundamental values of justice in Europe.
The fight currently being waged by free and courageous judges, prosecutors and lawyers in TURKEY must be seen as the fight of all those around the world who are committed to the values of the rule of law. So it’s a common fight, not just a fight in the interest of the Turkish people. As long as there is only one judge or prosecutor detained because of his fight for the independence of the judiciary, no other magistrate in Europe will be able to feel free and independent.
As Murat Arslan said in his speech of thanks for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, “I am addressing you to a prison in a country where the law is put in brackets, where the values of the democracy is progressively moving away, where the dissenting voices are stifled, where the defenders of the law, the journalists, those who wish for peace, those who cry so that the children do not die, are decreed terrorists, where the prison is the natural place defenders of rights and freedoms (…) The price we pay serves, on the contrary, to increase our belief and our desire to fight for good days ahead in favor of the values of law and democracy. “( …)
Link for Letters: