The Philippines: Attacks against lawyers further escalating
23 June 2021
Together with 29 lawyers’ organisations, bar associations and human rights organisations, AIJA signed a joint statement on the escalating attacks against lawyers in the Philippines.
The undersigned organisations express our deep concern over the attacks and the oppressive working environment lawyers still face in the Philippines.
We call again on the Duterte Government to adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers and end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur.
In view of the above, the undersigned organisations and individuals urge the Government of the Philippines to:
1. Investigate promptly, effectively, thoroughly and independently all extrajudicial killings and attacks against lawyers, and other jurists, with the aim of identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards;
2. Take all reasonable measures to guarantee the safety and physical integrity of lawyers, including the provision of adequate protection measures, in consultation with the persons concerned;
3. Create and fully support an independent, credible and impartial body, i.e. not under the control or the influence of the government, composed of members selected exclusively from nominees from lawyers organizations, civil society, the Church and the like in a transparent way, who are known for their human rights record, independency and integrity; this civilian investigative body must be entrusted with the necessary investigative and prosecutorial powers to investigate promptly, impartially and effectively - under international supervisory mandate - all reports and complaints against state security agents with respect to extrajudicial killings, threats and other forms of harassment; the recommendations of this investigative body should be immediately followed by the government.
4. Consistently condemn all forms of threats and attacks against lawyers publicly, at all political levels and in strong terms; and,
5. Fully comply with and create awareness about the core values underlying the legal profession, amongst others by bringing the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers to the attention of relevant stakeholders, especially members of the executive, police, and the military.
Read more about the final statement here.
14 June: International Fair Trial Day and the Ebru Timtik Award
14 June 2021
The right to a fair trial has long been recognised by the international community as a fundamental human right, without a fair trial every individual risks becoming the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Ebru Timtik was one of 18 lawyers in Turkey who were members of the Progressive Lawyers Association, some of which were working at the People’s Law Office, made subject to a prosecution in the Istanbul 37th Assize Court under Articles 314 and 220 of the Turkish Penal Code for terrorist offences. She and her colleagues were convicted on 20 March 2019 after a trial during which basic procedural safeguards and internationally recognised fair trial principles were ignored. Her conviction was based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses, many of which gave inconsistent testimony in relation to alleged facts and time periods. Lawyers acting in her defence were frequently prevented from participating in the proceedings and in some circumstances were excluded.
The defects in the trial process led Ebru Timtik together with one of her colleagues, Aytaç Ünsal, to commence a “death fast” following a hunger strike which began on 5 April 2020, the Turkish “Day of the Lawyer”. Sadly, on 27 August 2020 Ebru Timtik died whilst continuing to protest both her innocence of the charges on which she had been convicted, and the lack of respect for fundamental fair trial principles in the criminal justice system which had prejudiced both her and her colleagues, and many thousands of other individuals in Turkey.
International Fair Trial day - 14 June
In recognition of Ebru Timtik's sacrifice, a number of international bar and lawyers organisations (including AIJA), have come together to arrange an annual “International Fair Trial Day” which will be observed every year on 14 June. Steps are also being undertaken to introduce a new annual Ebru Timtik Award to recognise an individual or an organisation who has, or which has made an exceptional contribution towards securing fair trial rights in the country on which the International Fair Trial Day is focusing for the year in question. Each year a conference will be held, either online or at a physical location in a country chosen because of the level of concern with regard to the lack of respect for fair trial rights in that jurisdiction at that time. There will also be events in the countries across the word on each International Fair Trial Day to raise awareness of the situation in the focus country.
The International Organisation of Young Lawyers (AIJA) fully supports this initiative and wishes to raise awareness on this important issue and to continue to keep Ebru Timtik's memory alive.
To find out more about the International Fair Trial Day, read the statement here.
The Inaugural International Fair Trial Day event will take place later today (15.00-17.20 CEST) online. Watch it live on YouTube.