Law Society of Ontario Marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Highlights Deteriorating Situation in Turkey

The Day of the Endangered Lawyer is commemorated each year, on January 24th, by the international community of human rights advocates. Established in 2010, the Day calls attention to the plight of lawyers and human rights defenders around the world who, as a result of the discharge of their legitimate professional duties to protect the rights of others, are harassed, intimidated, tortured, persecuted, exiled or even killed.

Each year, the Day highlights the difficult situations experienced by lawyers and human rights defenders in a single country. The country of focus for 2019 is Turkey.

According to the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights, many journalists, academics, judges, prosecutors, human rights activists and lawyers were arrested between 2016 and 2018, while Turkey was ruled under a state of emergency. Although the state of the emergency was lifted in July 2018, political trials against lawyers continue.

A report of the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights released in 2018 documents that approximately 570 lawyers have been arrested, 1,480 have faced some form of prosecution and 79 have been sentenced to long-term imprisonment.

The Joint Submission to the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, 2018reports on the systemic attacks by the Turkish government against judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other legal professionals. The Joint Submission also reports on the government’s interference with the independence of the bar and bench by exercising undue influence over the legal profession.

To learn more about the challenges faced by lawyers in Turkey, please visit: and

The Law Society joins with the international human rights community to acknowledge and denounce the treatment of lawyers in Turkey. The Law Society calls on authorities to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments. Additionally, the Law Society urges authorities to ensure that all lawyers in Turkey can carry out their professional duties and activities without fear of reprisals, physical violence or other human rights violations.

The Law Society is committed to maintaining and advancing access to justice and the rule of law. Through its Human Rights Monitoring Group, the Law Society has intervened in over 220 cases in more than 55 countries around the world, including a number of cases involving judges, lawyers and human rights defenders in Turkey.

Members of the Human Rights Monitoring Group are benchers who are appointed by Convocation to monitor human rights violations that target members of the legal professions and the judiciary, in Canada and abroad. The Human Rights Monitoring Group works with credible human rights organizations like Human Rights WatchLawyers’ Rights WatchAmnesty International and Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights to intervene on matters that require a response from the Law Society.

The Law Society biennially hosts an event to commemorate the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, and the next presentation will take place in January 2020.

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