14 June: International Fair Trial Day and the Ebru Timtik Award
14 June 2021
The right to a fair trial has long been recognised by the international community as a fundamental human right, without a fair trial every individual risks becoming the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Ebru Timtik was one of 18 lawyers in Turkey who were members of the Progressive Lawyers Association, some of which were working at the People’s Law Office, made subject to a prosecution in the Istanbul 37th Assize Court under Articles 314 and 220 of the Turkish Penal Code for terrorist offences. She and her colleagues were convicted on 20 March 2019 after a trial during which basic procedural safeguards and internationally recognised fair trial principles were ignored. Her conviction was based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses, many of which gave inconsistent testimony in relation to alleged facts and time periods. Lawyers acting in her defence were frequently prevented from participating in the proceedings and in some circumstances were excluded.
The defects in the trial process led Ebru Timtik together with one of her colleagues, Aytaç Ünsal, to commence a “death fast” following a hunger strike which began on 5 April 2020, the Turkish “Day of the Lawyer”. Sadly, on 27 August 2020 Ebru Timtik died whilst continuing to protest both her innocence of the charges on which she had been convicted, and the lack of respect for fundamental fair trial principles in the criminal justice system which had prejudiced both her and her colleagues, and many thousands of other individuals in Turkey.
International Fair Trial day - 14 June
In recognition of Ebru Timtik's sacrifice, a number of international bar and lawyers organisations (including AIJA), have come together to arrange an annual “International Fair Trial Day” which will be observed every year on 14 June. Steps are also being undertaken to introduce a new annual Ebru Timtik Award to recognise an individual or an organisation who has, or which has made an exceptional contribution towards securing fair trial rights in the country on which the International Fair Trial Day is focusing for the year in question. Each year a conference will be held, either online or at a physical location in a country chosen because of the level of concern with regard to the lack of respect for fair trial rights in that jurisdiction at that time. There will also be events in the countries across the word on each International Fair Trial Day to raise awareness of the situation in the focus country.
The International Organisation of Young Lawyers (AIJA) fully supports this initiative and wishes to raise awareness on this important issue and to continue to keep Ebru Timtik's memory alive.
To find out more about the International Fair Trial Day, read the statement here.
The Inaugural International Fair Trial Day event will take place later today (15.00-17.20 CEST) online. Watch it live on YouTube.