UN condemns killing of prominent Turkish lawyer

UN condemns killing of prominent Turkish lawyer

UN condemns killing of prominent Turkish lawyer

People gather on the place where lawyer Tahir Elçi was killed after forensic officers left the street on November 30, 2015 in Diyarbakır. AFP Photo

The United Nations has condemned the killing of prominent Turkish lawyer Tahir Elçi in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, expressing its concerns about the “chilling effect” Elçi’s murder may have on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the country.

“I urge the authorities to carry out a thorough, independent and transparent investigation and bring those responsible to justice, in full compliance with Turkey’s international human rights obligations,” U.N. special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Mónica Pinto said on Dec. 1, condemning in the strongest terms the killing of Elçi, a human rights lawyer and the head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association. 

“I am also concerned about the ‘chilling effect’ Mr. Elçi’s death may have on lawyers, their independence and the exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression,” Pinto said, while acknowledging that Turkish officials have publicly expressed determination in shedding light on what happened.

Pinto noted that “as one of the three main actors of an independent justice system, lawyers have an essential role to play in protecting human rights, in particular due process and fair trial guarantees, and ultimately contribute greatly to ensuring respect for the rule of law and democracy.”

“Governments have an obligation to guarantee that lawyers can work without intimidation and risk to their lives and security and that of their families,” Pinto stated, recalling the U.N. Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. 

“The Turkish authorities must guarantee adequate protection to all lawyers whose security is at risk,” she added.