Today marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, a moment to recognize the threats facing lawyers around the world who dare to stand up for human rights. In recent years Amnesty International has felt the impact of these threats close to home, through the government crackdown on our colleagues in Turkey.
Hundreds of lawyers are now believed to be in pre-trial detention or serving prison terms in Turkey’s overcrowded jails. They are regularly targeted through abusive criminal investigations and unfair prosecutions, accused of the alleged crimes of their clients.
Lawyers are also coming under physical, sometimes fatal, attack. Tahir Elçi, a prominent human rights lawyer, died after being shot in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakır in 2015.
In such a repressive climate the people who step up in defence of human rights violations themselves become targets. The job of defence and human rights lawyers is increasingly vital in Turkey, but ever more dangerous.