HRFT-İHD Joint Statement: Human Rights Work Cannot Be Criminalized!


Human Rights Association’s local Diyarbakır branch executive board member Ferhat Berkpınar was taken into custody and a search warrant was issued for his residence and workplace through an order issued within the scope of an investigation conducted by Adıyaman Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and a ruling rendered by Diyarbakır 4th Criminal Peace Judgeship. While the fact that Ferhat Berkpınar’s workplace was specified in the ruling as if it were İHD’s local Diyarbakır office is not something done in good faith but is a legal intrigue that aims to criminalize human rights work. Under the related provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, only a person’s body, residence, workplace and vehicle can be searched. Issuing a search warrant other than these is a blatant violation of law. İHD’s local Diyarbakır branch, where Ferhat Berkpınar has been serving as a volunteer, is not his personal workplace.

Indeed, İHD’s Diyarbakır branch office was entered with the help of a locksmith in the morning without even notifying the branch chairperson and the office was searched pursuant to this ruling. During the search, the desk of a branch staff by the entry was also searched other than that of Ferhat Berkpınar’s , thus even the scope of the search warrant was breached. Objections raised by the branch chairperson and association’s lawyers, who went to the branch office after the search was already under way, as to the unlawfulness of the search and it was being conducted in breach of the search warrant were not taken down in the search report either, therefore, another unlawful act was committed as well.

Issuing an unlawful and arbitrary search warrant in this way, conducting such search even in breach of the warrant are worrisome in every respect. It is seen that the criminalization of human rights work in this manner aims to maintain the deteriorating judicial harassment against human rights defenders, notably İHD executives.

Our lawyers will immediately file the necessary objections and complaints. Yet, we would like to remind the law enforcement and the judiciary that have been taking all these measures that these methods had often been used in Turkey for a period and those who had implemented them are now being held accountable before courts of law. We recommend that particularly the members of the judiciary should not let themselves be instrumentalized in the political power’s repressive policies through the judiciary and remember the norms and principles of universal human rights.

We demand that our friend, Ferhat Berkpınar, be released immediately and all his legal rights be protected.

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) – Human Rights Association (İHD)