Urgent action letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the killing of Tahir Elçi

“Turkey must take steps to ensure a fair trial by an impartial and independent tribunal respecting the procedural rights of Tahir Elçi’s family, as well as carry out a prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation into Mr. Elçi’s death.”

The Turkey Litigation Support Project (TLSP), together with 47 other lawyers’ and human rights organisations wrote a letter (available here) to the United Nations (UN) special mandate holders today on the killing of human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi on 28 November 2015 and the lack of effective investigation into his death.

The letter has been addressed to the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; and Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

Providing a detailed analysis of the shortcomings of the investigation and prosecution into the incident and underlining Turkey's international human rights obligations, the organisations request the Special Rapporteurs’ urgent action ahead of the next hearing on 3 March 2021 in the criminal trial of those accused of killing Mr. Elçi and invite the mandate holders to call on the Turkish authorities to ensure;

      i.        The case concerning Mr. Elçi’s killing is heard by an independent, impartial, and competent court that is capable of establishing the facts and truth around the killing;

    ii.        All future hearings before the Diyarbakır 10th Heavy Penal Court comply with international standards regarding the right to a fair trial, in which the victims’ rights are also recognised;

   iii.        The hostile attitude from the court towards the Elçi family and their lawyers and the court’s persistent refusal to follow the rules of procedure and principles of both domestic and international law are not repeated in future hearings;

   iv.        The lawyers for the Elçi family are given reasonable opportunities to be heard and to make their applications in relation to the procedure and the evidence;

    v.        Where submissions are refused, reasons for refusal are given in accordance with the case law of the ECtHR;

   vi.        Following a fair judicial procedure, those who are responsible for Mr. Elçi’s killing are held accountable and serve sentences appropriate to the gravity of the crime committed; and

 vii.        Mr. Elçi’s family is provided with appropriate redress for the violations they and their loved one have suffered in accordance with the international obligations of Turkey and the Minnesota Protocol.

The letter was endorsed by the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, Amsterdam Bar Association, Article 19, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC), Cartoonists Rights Network International, Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP), Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE), Danish PEN, Denmark Defence Without Borders - Solidarity Lawyers (DSF-AS), Dutch League for Human Rights, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Fair Trial Watch, French National Bar Council (CNB), Gelderland Bar Association, Geneva Bar Association, Giuristi Democratici, Human Rights Commission of the European Bars Federation (FBE), Human Rights in Practice, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), Italian National Bar Council (CNF) , Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, Lawyers without Borders, Limburg Bar Association, Lyon Bar Association, Midden-Nederland Bar Association, National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) , Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Noord-Holland Bar Association, Noord-Nederland Bar Association, Oost-Brabant Bar Association, Overijssel Bar Association, Research Institute on Turkey, Rotterdam Bar Association, Rovereto Bar Association, Swiss Democratic Lawyers, The European Association of Lawyers (AEA-EAL) , The Foundation day of the Endangered Lawyer , The Hague Bar Association, The Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL), The International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL) , The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD), The International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR), The joint Presidents of the Local Bar Associations of the Netherlands, The Law Society of England and Wales, The National Lawyers Guild (U.S.) International Committee, and Zeeland-West-Brabant Bar Association.