On 25-27 June 2019, Turkish human rights lawyers visited lawyer organisations, NGOs, research centres, law firms, and courts, as part of a study visit, conducted under the EU-Council of Europe Joint Project “Strengthening the Capacity of Bar Associations and Lawyers on European Human Rights Standards”.
The visiting delegation headed by the Deputy President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (UTBA), Ünsal Toker, was composed of representatives of the UTBA and several regional bar associations, including Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır, Trabzon and Van.
During the meeting at the Law Society of England and Wales, the Head of International Affairs, Mickael Laurans, International Human Rights Policy Adviser, Marina Brilman, International Programmes Manager, Lizzette Robleto de Howarth, made presentations on their human rights work at the international level and their co-operation with lawyers from other countries. At Monckton Chambers, a London-based barristers law firm active in the field of human rights, Piers Gardner, Robert Palmer, Ben Emmerson and Drew Holliner shared their strategic litigation experiences in relation to the Human Rights Act of the UK and ECtHR. In Essex University, the participants had the opportunity to learn about the activities of Law Clinic, Human Rights Clinic and Armed Conflict Hub. The chair of the Human Rights Committee at the Law Society, Tony Fisher, also talked about the most pressing human rights issues in the UK and how his organisation dealt with them. The meetings at Human Rights Watch and Bar Human Rights Committee concentrated on the challenges that human rights lawyers experience in Turkey and how international co-operation could be strengthened in order to enhance the protection of human rights defenders. Finally, the delegation participated in a guided tour to the Supreme Court.
The study visit helped establish contacts with lawyer organisations and human rights centres and NGOs in the UK and create new synergies for co-operation in various areas, in particular, human rights and business, protection of lawyers, trial monitoring and strategic litigation.