On 13-14 February 2019, in Ankara, the 1st Working Group meeting was held to develop the Action Plan with a view to enhancing the functioning of Human Rights Centers (HRCs) under the EU-CoE Joint Project “Strengthening the Capacity of Bar Associations and Lawyers on European Human Rights Standards”. The participants included the representatives of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations and the local pilot bars in Ankara, Diyarbakir, Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Trabzon and Van, in addition to the consultants and CoE officials.
The participants discussed the activities to be implemented for establishment and proper functioning of the HRCs as well as the resources, time framework and responsibilities of partners for each activity. Additionally, they dealt with the preparation of a draft regulation, which will provide a consolidated legal framework applicable for all local bars in relation to structure, organization, functioning, responsibilities, staffing and financial aspects of the HRCs. They also elaborated on the development of set of recommendations concerning the creation of a data base and communication network which will be used by the HRCs to record the particular repetitive human rights violations.
According to Article 110 of the Code of Lawyers of Turkey, one of the main tasks of the UTBA and local bars is to “defend and protect the rule of law and human rights”. For this purpose, they have established HRCs across the country. The Project seeks to improve the capacities of these centers and raise awareness of lawyers about European human rights standards.