The CEELI Institute continues its ongoing program in support of Turkish human rights lawyers focused on cases related to the defense of freedom of expression, association, and privacy. Our most recent series of programs have focused on developing the legal knowledge and skills for preparing and submitting cases to the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR), in Strasbourg.  As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is subject to that Court’s jurisdiction on matters related to violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Given the lack of meaningful domestic legal remedies from Turkish courts in human rights cases, the ECtHR often represents the only remaining possibility for seeking justice in a vast array of cases including those related to the purges of the last three years, freedom of speech, and older, serious human rights violations from across the country.

The programs for Turkish lawyers respond to the demonstrated needs of the Turkish legal community. At present, a large number of applications from Turkey being rejected by the ECtHR on formal grounds without a hearing. Training is related to the preparation of Turkish cases for presentation at the ECtHR has consistently been at the top of the Turkish lawyers’ interest.

The most recent session focused on preparing and submitting cases to the ECtHR related to Articles 8, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, protecting, respectively, the right to respect for private and family life; freedom of expression; and freedom of association – a frequent combination in many cases currently defended by the lawyers. CEELI was assisted at this session by the Strasbourg-based NGO International Protection Centre, which has significant expertise in working with the ECtHR, and has handled a large number of successful applications.