Turkish critics want harder line from visiting head of European court

ANKARA, Sept 3- Turkish lawyers and advocates have criticised the head of the European Court of Human Rights for not defending human rights and the rule of law robustly enough while meeting President Tayyip Erdogan and top judiciary in Ankara. The European court’s president, Robert Spano, began his four-day visit to Turkey with a speech on judicial…

ANKARA, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Turkish lawyers and advocates

have criticised the head of the European Court of Human Rights

(ECHR) for not defending human rights and the rule of law

robustly enough while meeting President Tayyip Erdogan and top

judiciary in Ankara.

The European court’s president, Robert Spano, began hisfour-day visit to Turkey with a speech on judicial independencein which he criticised the country’s arrests of judges andemphasized the principal of subsidiarity, under which Turkishcourts must recognise ECHR rulings.

But he stopped short of addressing the government’streatment of some lawyers, including those on hunger strike inprison demanding fair trials. Nor did the speech mention newregulations on bar associations criticised by many lawyers.

Last week, lawyer Ebru Timtik died in an Istanbul hospitalafter a 238-day hunger strike following her conviction last yearfor membership of a terrorist organization.

“The speech suggests Judge Spano does not believe thatTurkey has serious human rights and rule of law problems. Thereexist some minor problems but all of them can easily be solvedby the training of young judges. Good luck!” prominent humanrights lawyer Kerem Altiparmak said on Twitter.

Spano met Erdogan and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul andwas later to receive an honorary law doctorate from IstanbulUniversity. In his speech, Spano noted the detention andconviction of former Turkish judge Alparslan Altan.

The ECHR in 2019 ruled Altan’s detention was unlawful, butthe ruling was not upheld by Turkish courts. Altan is serving an11-year prison sentence after being convicted of membership ofthe network that Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup in 2016.

Spano’s visit drew criticism before he arrived.

Emma Sinclair-Webb, director of Human Rights Watch Turkey,said on Twitter it was “astonishing to think” Spano planned toaccept a doctorate from a university that “summarily dismissedscores of academics… in an unlawful way.” She added: “Thinkagain Judge Spano.”(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Jonathan Spicer andAlexandra Hudson)

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