Together with 13 other bar associations and organisations, we’ve submitted a report for the universal periodic review of Turkey to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The report gathers evidence on the situation of lawyers, judges and prosecutors in Turkey since the end of 2015.

It documents an increase in the number of arrests, detentions and convictions of lawyers, judges and prosecutors. Many of them are convicted and sentenced under broadly-worded offences included in anti-terrorism legislation.

The systematic undermining of the legal system by the government, especially since the failed coup in 2016, restricts access to justice for all citizens in Turkey. This is exacerbated by the lack of redress for human rights violations at the international level. 

Lawyers are also hindered in carrying out their professional activities, for example through:

  • lack of access to case files and indictments
  • lack of access to their clients
  • violations of professional confidentiality between lawyers and their clients, and
  • the accused not being able to have access to a legal representative of their choice

Our report documents the erosion of judicial and prosecutorial independence through amendments to the structure of the body overseeing appointments and disciplinary proceedings, with increased influence of the executive.


The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 4 and a half years.

42 States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 States each. These three sessions are usually held in January/February, May/June and October/November.

The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by 2011, will have reviewed the human rights records of every country. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the new Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.