Human Rights

ECBA appoints Human Rights Officer

As defined by its constitution, one the objects of the ECBA is to promote the administration of justice and human rights under the rule of law within the member states of the Council of Europe and among the peoples of the world.
Throughout the years the ECBA has been following Criminal Proceedings’ Human Rights’ issues. The increasing involvement of the ECBA in advocacy for Human Rights in Criminal Proceedings – see, for example, the issue of the Lawyers’ Judgments in Turkey addressed  in the Newletter (Issue 27: December 2013) – has led the ECBA to appoint a Human Rights Officer (HRO). The first ECBA-HRO will be Advisory Board Member Scott Crosby. Scott is a long time member of the ECBA and has a wide experience in taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights. He also publishes regular updates on European Court of Human Rights’ Judgments in the New Journal of European Criminal Law (NJECL). 
The Human Rights Officer (HRO) will be the contact person for Human Rights’ issues, including  possible interventions by the ECBA before the ECtHR, and will represent the ECBA in activities such as trial observations. 
If you know of any issue that should be brought to the attention of the HRO, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Joint Statement on the possible reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey

The statement was sent on Tuesday 11 October 2016 to President Erdoğan and relevant authorities in Turkey as well as key players at EU level (Commission, Council, Parliament, Council of Europe, European External Action Service, EU Fundamental Rights Agency).  

English version

French version

Please click here for the reply from Prof. Dr. Metin Feyzioğlu, Esq., President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (UTBA) to the ECBA and here for the statement issued by the UTBA and the local bar associations.

The Purging of the Judiciary in Turkey

Handouts from MEDEL (Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés) as presented by Scott Crosby, ECBA Human Right Officer at the ECBA Autumn Conference in Lisbon, Portugal on 1 October 2016

Human Rights in Turkey: Letter to Mr. Schulz, President of the European Parliament

The Human Rights Officer has written a letter to Mr. Schulz, President of the European Parliament on 18 March 2016, with copies to the Presidents of the Council and the Commission respectively to draw their attention to the break down of the rule of law in Turkey. To read the letter click here. In his letter he refers to two other letters:
The first letter is from Mr Ceren Uysal, Advocate, which was received on 16 March 2016 and which describes the repressive measures taken by the Turkish authorities against academics who signed a petition on 10 January 2016 demanding inter alia that the state “abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region” and that “the state lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage.”
The second comprises a Statement from the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights dated 17 March 2016 which reports that on 16 March 2016, the police raided the houses of lawyers in Istanbul and arrested others without reasons being given.

No reply has been received from Mr. Schulz or from either of the two other presidents either.

Easter 2016

By Scott Crosby, Advocate, Brussels, HumanRights Officer of the ECBA

Terror struck Brussels today, 22 March 2016, at the beginning of Easter week. We saw the aftermath of the metro bombing from the office window. Some of us had passed through the airport only a few hours before the explosions there. Everybody is affected. Everybody is shocked. Everybody is asking how it will all end. Now everybody understands Kabul, Bagdad, Jerusalem, Gaza, Ankara, Istanbul, New York, Boston, London, Madrid, Glasgow, Paris and all the other places where people are blown out of existence in the name of we know not what.

Read more...

Yea Rights! – The Legal Impact of Repealing the Human Rights Act

This piece was originally published in the joint UK Law Societies’ monthly publication on EU law and policy, the Brussels Agenda.”

After failing to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) in the 2010-2015 Parliament whilst in coalition, the UK Conservative Government, now with a slim majority, is approaching the subject with renewed vigour. The current Government plan is to scrap the HRA and replace it with a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities by the summer of 2016[1].

The HRA incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (ECHR) into UK domestic law. It enables UK citizens to use the ECHR in any UK court, obliges UK courts to “take into account” the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) jurisprudence, read national legislation “so far as is possible” in line with the ECHR, and allows UK courts to declare that national legislation is incompatible with the ECHR (but only allows for the striking down of secondary, not primary, legislation).

Read more...

Press release on the murder of Tahir Elçi, president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a non-governmental organization with consultative status to the Council on Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (ECOSOC), and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (ELDH) are shocked and outraged by the brutal murder of their colleague Tahir Elçi, president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. Please click here for their press release.

The ECBA endorses the statements of the IADL and the ELDH and abhors and condemns this assassination unreservedly.

Resistance to UK Government Plan to Repudiate European Court of Human Rights

An ECBA working group is being set up to resist the UK Government’s intention to sever the link with the European Human Rights Court which group members see as a dangerous and retrograde step from any perspective and one which affects not only the rights of persons in Britain, but undermines respect for and the protection of fundamental and human rights throughout Europe, and, given the UK’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council, potentially throughout the world. Click here for the intervention of Scott Crosby at the ECBA Autunm conference in Luxembourg, 3 October 2015.

Letter to the European Parliament

In February this year a Pakistani man, aged 23, was expelled from Italy and sent to Pakistan  for allegedly voicing support for ISIS. He was expelled by administrative order, on vaguely stated grounds, and without judicial involvement. The person in question, Muhammed Usman “Rayen” Khan, had been resident in Bozen since the age of 8. 
Avv. Nicola Canestrini, a member of the European Criminal Bar Association, lodged an application for judicial review of the expulsion order before the Regional  Administrative Court of Lazio (TAR Lazio). A member of the European Parliament, Matteo Salvini, criticised this action on his facebook page and received many statements of support from facebook “followers”.
The matter was raised with the Italian Prime Minister by the CCBE. The ECBA has written a letter to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament as it was felt that it was important that Mr Schulz should be aware of this incident, primarily because of its threat to the rule of law, but also because of its detrimental effect on the reputation and standing of the European Parliament. 
Click here for the ECBA letter and here for the reply.

Report on the UN Human Rights Committee - The Universal Periodic Report on Turkey

(A/HRC/WG.6/21/TUR/2) - 27 January 2015 - click here for the report.

Report by Scott Crosby, ECBA Human Right Officer

The document bearing the above reference was prepared for the UNRC and was prepared for the 21st Human Rights Council Session by way of a Universal Periodic Review on Turkey and was discussed in Geneva on 27 January 2015. 
Immediately after the official discussion in the HRC, a side meeting was held in the UN Building, the Palais des Nations, where representatives of various sectors of Turkish life testified as to persistent human rights violations by Turkey. 
Click here  for the PDF version of the article or read more....

Istanbul Bar Trial, Hearing of 24 February 2014 - report

Istanbul, 25 February 2014 

The President and the Board of the Istanbul Bar Association were acquitted yesterday, 24 February 2014, of the charge of unlawfully influencing the court in the Balyoz (sledgehammer) trial. The judgment was greeted by shouts of joy and relief by the public packed into the courtroom and those outside for whom there was no room inside.

Istanbul Bar Trial, Hearing of 7 January 2014 - Report

Istanbul, 8 January 2014

The trial of the President and the Council of the Istanbul Bar Association was resumed on 7 January 2014 in the Silivri courthouse. In reality this was not a resumption because the first hearing on 17 May 2013 had been abandoned before it started owing to lack of space in the courtroom. It was re-scheduled for 12 October 2013 and then postponed once again to 7 January 2014. These adjournments were not requested by the defence. The hearing on 7 January 2014 ended in a further adjournment which was vigorously opposed by the defence.  Read more....

ECBA Resolution on the Protection of Lawyers in the Exercise of their Professional Duties

Please click here for the ECBA resolution on the Protection of Lawyers in the Exercise of their Professional Duties which expresses our concerns for past and upcoming criminal proceedings and coercive measures against defence lawyers in Turkey. We are in particular seriously concerned about the trial against the President and the Board Members of the Istanbul Bar Association, starting on 17 May 2013. Such is our concern in this regard  that we will be present in court during this trial as European observers in terms of the rule of law and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. This resolution was sent to the President and the Minister of Justice of Turkey and to the President of the Istanbul Bar Association on the 13th of May 2013.

Click here for the reply of President Barroso, European Commission.