New Zealand Law Society - Law association Presidents concerned at Turkey developments

Law association Presidents concerned at Turkey developments

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The Presidents of Law Associations of Asia (POLA) have expressed deep concern over the recent developments in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt.

POLA has issued a statement following its 2016 Summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck attended the Summit, along with representatives of 11 other lawyers' associations as well as Presidents of the International Bar Association, LAWASIA and Inter-Pacific Bar Association.

The statement notes that a number of judges have been removed from office and detained in Turkey, and a large number of lawyers have similarly been either detained or prevented from discharging their professional duties and functions.

"While POLA is not in a position to comment on the factual aspects of the events that have occurred in Turkey, it is nevertheless deeply concerned that, whatever the circumstances, there should be no undue restraint on the legal profession or the judiciary preventing them from acting independently," it says.

"POLA takes note of the UN Basic Principles on the role of lawyers,  especially paragraph 16 which says, 'Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all their professional functions without intimidations, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics'."

POLA says whatever the circumstances, it urges the Turkish authorities to follow the UN Basic Principles in letter and spirit "because that is the only way the international community can rest assured that the rule of law still prevails in Turkey."