Overnight police raids in several Turkish cities have resulted in the arrest of 15 human rights lawyers known for defending individuals’ right to freedom of speech and victims of police violence, Amnesty International said.
The police operation, which was reportedly aimed at clamping down on a banned left-wing group, included arrests in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir and targeted residential addresses as well as law offices. Headquarters and branches of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) and the Peoples’ Law Office in Istanbul were among the addresses included in the raids.
According to information received by Amnesty International, police searched the People’s Law Office without having a prosecutor and bar association representative present, as required by law.
“The detention of prominent human rights lawyers and the apparent illegal search of their offices add to a pattern of prosecutions apparently cracking down on dissenting voices,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.