Lawyer Investigated to Reveal Child Torture


Lawyer Investigated to Reveal Child Torture

An investigation was launched against lawyer Erkem for her statements as Bar Association official related to child torture in local prison. She given only 10 days to prepare her defense or forgo defense rights, but is denied access to court files.

BIA News Center
21/09/2006 TolgaKORKUT

BİA(Izmir) – The Izmir Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation against attorney Nalan Erkem who in 2003, as an executive of the city Bar Association Group to Prevent Torture, publicly disclosed the existence of torture and mistreatment of children held at the local Buca prison.

The investigation started after the prosecution received formal permission from the Ministry of Justice but Erkem told bianet on Wednesday that she was informed she had to prepare her defense in the next ten days or forgo her right of defense altogether.

Erkem said her right to defense was being violated with authorities refusing to give a copy of the case file to her lawyer as required by the Criminal Procedures Law article 153.

In the said period, as member of the executive board of the Izmir Bar Association Group to Prevent Torture (IOG), Erkem had passed on information and allegations to the press related to incidences of torture of children at the Buca prison children’s ward, their denied access to legal counsel and refusals by prison authorities to requests of transfers.

The incident and reports coming prior to a riot at the children’s ward were later referred to as reasons for a riot in the compound by the national press and were reported under headlines ranging from “Torture in Prison” to”Signs of a Riot Were There”.

Erkem maintains that public revelation of the information which they had in many folders led not only to subsequent talks with senior officials on the issue but also an overall improvement in conditions for children held in prison and the construction of the Bergama prison for minors.

“At the end of this period child inmates are in far better conditions” Erkem told bianet. “This was realized through us making these torture claims known. But the cost of this is my being put on trial”.

IHGD: End the investigation immediately

The Human Rights Agenda Association (IHGD) to which Erkem is a member of has issued a statement demanding the investigation to end immediately noting that the prosecution’s argument, some three years after the incident, was that she had made a statement on an incident which was subject to investigation before the investigation into the prison riot had been concluded.

IHGD’s statement said Instead of investigating those human rights advocates in Turkey who are struggling to prevent torture and mistreatment incidents,prosecutors have the responsibility to impartially and thoroughly investigate claims of torture and mistreatment, bringing those responsible in front of justice”.(TK /II /YE)