[JURIST] A Turkish court on Monday charged nine lawyers for membership in an outlawed group under Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws. The lawyers, including some human rights advocates [AP report], are accused of being associated with the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (RPLP) [BBC profile], a group that advocates for a Marxist state and has claimed responsibility for violence and assassinations in the country since the 1970s. The lawyers were detained for questioning last week in a nationwide crackdown by the Turkish government on members of the RPLP in which about 70 others were also detained. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has condemned [press release] the arrests as illustrative of Turkey’s overly-broad anti-terrorism laws, which it claims have been used to suppress legitimate activities in violation of Turkey’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF] and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text]. In addition to criticizing the law itself, HRW has accused Turkey of utilizing prolonged pretrial detention. The lawyers who were charged have been arrested and are awaiting trial.
Turkey’s record on human rights has faced much criticism from the international community recently. In December a UN human rights expert declared that Turkey must be more proactive in ending extrajudicial killings [JURIST report] by prosecuting those who perpetrate violence, especially violence against women. In November the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] criticized Turkey [JURIST report] for prosecuting activists under the country’s vague counter-terrorism law. In October the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled [JURIST report] that Turkey detained a gay man in violation of Articles 3 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In July Turkey’s parliament voted to abolish the special courts [Hurriyet Daily News report] used in coup and terrorism trials, which were heavily criticized [JURIST report] for being out of control and forcing defendants to spend years in detention without receiving a verdict.