Mark 14 June 2021 as the first International Fair Trial Day.
The right to a fair trial has long been recognised by the international community as a fundamental human right. Without a fair trial, everyone is at risk of a miscarriage of justice, whether as an innocent suspect wrongly convicted or as a victim unable to obtain justice for wrongdoing committed against them.
Ebru Timtik was one of 18 Turkish lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers Association, some of whom worked at the People's Law Office, who were prosecuted at the 37th Istanbul Assize Court under Articles 314 and 220 of the Turkish Criminal Code for terrorist offences. She and her colleagues were convicted on 20 March 2019 after a trial in which fundamental procedural safeguards and internationally recognised fair trial principles were flouted. His conviction was based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses, many of whom gave testimony inconsistent with the alleged facts and times. Documents allegedly obtained from government authorities in Belgium and the Netherlands were never authenticated, yet were used as grounds for conviction without his lawyers having access to them. The originals of the digital documents allegedly seized from a music centre were also not made available to the defence lawyers. They have not been able to see, analyse or challenge these documents, the existence of which has never been proven. His defence lawyers were often prevented from participating in the proceedings and were even excluded in some circumstances.
The shortcomings of the trial led Ebru Timtik and one of his colleagues, Aytaç Ünsal, to start a "death fast" following a hunger strike that began on 5 April 2020, which is "Lawyer's Day" in Turkey. Sadly, on 27 August 2020, Ebru Timtik died as she continued to maintain her innocence of the charges that led to her conviction and to protest against the failure of the criminal justice system to respect the basic principles of fair trial, which has harmed her, her colleagues and thousands of others in Turkey.
In recognition of her sacrifice, and in order to draw attention to the plight of people in countries around the world who are prosecuted in circumstances where fair trial principles are not observed or respected, a number of international bar associations and lawyers' organisations have come together to organise an "International Fair Trial Day" to be celebrated annually on 14 June. Steps are also being taken to establish an annual award, the Ebru Timtik Award, to recognise an individual or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to ensuring the right to a fair trial in the country that is the focus of International Fair Trial Day in that year. Each year, a conference will be organised, either online or in the country chosen because of the level of concern about the lack of respect for fair trial rights in that jurisdiction at that time. Events will also be organised around the world on each International Fair Trial Day to raise awareness of the situation in the country concerned.
The steering group, composed of the Council of European Bars and Law Societies (CCBE), the European Lawyers' Association for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH), the Fédération des Barreaux d'Europe (FBE), the European Democratic Lawyers (EDL-AED), the Conseil national des Barreaux de France (CNB), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (AIJD), the Union internationale des avocats (UIA) the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (CNF), the Law Society of England and Wales, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), Ayşe Bingöl Demir and Serife Ceren Uysal, agreed that the first conference will be held as a virtual event on 14 June 2021 and will focus on the right to a fair trial in Turkey.
Download below the press release in English or French
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