Liz Davies, Chair of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, has sent a letter to the President of Turkey expressing our strong concerns regarding the treatment of Advocate Ramazan Demir.
Adv. Demir has been summoned to appear before the special prosecutor of the 15th Criminal Court in Silivri in relation to a statement he made in the course of his duties as counsel in court on 16 November 2012. No complaint was made by either the judge or the prosecutor at the time he made the statement, however, six months later, on 13 May 2013, the prosecutor placed him under formal investigation, alleging a violation of article 125 of the Turkish Criminal Code, namely “offending the dignity of a public authority in the performance of its duties”.
The alleged statement was made in what is known as the “KCK Press Trial” in which 44 journalists stand accused in Silivri. Adv. Demir on behalf of his client requested that an expert witness should be appointed. He stated the self-evident fact that it is not open to a prosecutor to simply assert that journalists lacked “independence” or behaved in any way inappropriate to their profession. Such an allegation must be proved by expert evidence on issues such as journalistic ethics and the international human rights guarantees of freedom of expression.
On the basis of his request, we understand that Adv. Demir now faces prosecution for an offence of “insulting or offending the dignity of a public authority in the performance of his duties.”
We will be bringing these matters to the attention of the appropriate United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights. We will continue to monitor any further attempts to undermine the abilities of Adv. Demir and his professional colleagues to provide the professional representation to their clients and international standards of human rights require.