PACE General Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member states, Alexandra Louis (France, ALDE), together with the co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden, SOC) and John Howell (United Kingdom, CE/DA), have reacted to the death on Thursday of Turkish lawyer and human rights defender Ebru Timtik, who was in prison and on hunger strike.
“We are shocked and saddened by the death of Ms Timtik and offer our condolences to her family. Ms Timtik had gone on hunger strike to denounce the alleged violations of her right to a fair trial. Her state of health was therefore vulnerable and had worsened as a result of poor prison conditions and the health crisis. However, the Turkish authorities rejected her requests for release.
We urge the Turkish authorities to immediately release Aytaç Űnsal, Ms Timtik's colleague, who had begun the hunger strike with her and whose health is deteriorating considerably.
We also call on the Turkish authorities to respect their commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights and to cease all acts of intimidation or reprisals against lawyers who engage in the defence of human rights and/or deal with politically sensitive issues. Lawyers must be able to exercise their profession freely and, without them, there is no independent judiciary,” they said.
The co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Thomas Hammarberg and John Howell, added: “In this context, we reiterate the urgent need for reforms to ensure the conditions necessary for the holding of fair trials. We will pay particular attention to this issue as part of our follow-up.”
Ebru Timtik, aged 42, specialised in the defence of politically sensitive cases and was a member of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association. Sentenced to 13 years and 6 months in prison for “maintaining links” with a terrorist organisation, her appeal was pending before the Supreme Court. Last February, together with her colleague Aytaç Űnsal, sentenced in the same trial to 10 years and 6 months in prison, she had begun an open-ended hunger strike to demand a new trial.