Criminal Defendants’ Rights
In September 1997, Fordham Law School’s Joseph R. Crowley Program in International Human Rights and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) undertook a two-year project to study Turkey’s State Security Court system and to evaluate it against international fair trial standards. The project included extensive study of Turkish law and procedure, including a review of previous reports by the Lawyers Committee and other international and Turkish non-governmental organizations, and information provided by the Turkish government, among other sources. In May and June 1998, an eleven person delegation spent two weeks visiting ten cities in Turkey. The members of the delegation from the Crowley Program were Professors Tracy Higgins and Martin Flaherty (Faculty Co-Directors, Leitner Center), Michael Sweeney (Crowley Program Fellow), Marko Maglich, Ayako Nagano, Kysseline Jean-Mary, Joan Xia, Nnennaya Okezie, and Dyanna Pepitone (Crowley Program Scholars). The representatives of the Lawyers Committee were Neil Hicks and Tigran Eldred. The delegation benefitted from the help of seven very able interpreters: Muge Kinacioglu, Ayliz Baskin, Aykut Kazanci, Tolga Ozalun, Dilek Kurban, Ayse Artun, and Pinar Erdogdu.
During the mission, delegation members interviewed lawyers, prosecutors, judges, government officials, and torture victims and observed hearings in both State Security Courts and ordinary penal courts. The mission resulted in a report that documented the delegation’s investigation, summarized its findings, and set out its recommendations to the Turkish government. The Crowley Program’s Turkey mission report was published in 22 Fordham Int’l L.J. (1999). Read the full report here.
Human Rights First continues to work on behalf of Turkish human rights activists suffering persecution because of their defense of human rights and the rule of law. For more information, please see their Human Rights Defenders Initiative in Turkey.
For more information on the current human rights situation in Turkey, please consult: