Public Statement - The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns about the murder of lawyer Tahir Elçi in Turkey

TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2015 /CNW/ - The Law Society of Upper Canada is gravely concerned about the murder of lawyer Tahir Elçi in Turkey.

According to reports, on November 28, 2015, lawyer Tahir Elçi spoke at a news conference at a historic mosque in the old city of Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey. He called attention to the damage done to historic buildings during recent violence in the city. Tahir Elçi was saying, before he was shot "We do not want guns, clashes and operations in this historical area, which has been a cradle to many civilizations." Moments later, Tahir Elçi was killed with one shot from an unknown shooter, in what Human Rights Watch has called an assassination. It is unclear who is responsible for Tahir Elçi's murder.

Tahir Elçi was the head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. He had previously been detained and received death threats after saying the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party should not be regarded as a terrorist organization. Tahir Elçi was active as a human rights lawyer since the 1990s. He played a critical role in investigating alleged abuses by the Turkish state, but he was also outspoken in his criticism of Kurdish militants.

The Law Society urges the government of Turkey to comply with Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified by Turkey in 2003).

Article 6.1:                                        

Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

The Law Society also respectfully requests that the government of Turkey comply with Articles 16 and 17 of the United Nations' Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Article 16 states, in part:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference

Moreover, Article 17 states:

Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

The Law Society urges the government of Turkey to:


guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of human rights lawyers in Turkey;


ensure that a thorough, impartial, independent and fair investigation is conducted into the murder of Tahir Elçi;


ensure that all lawyers can carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of physical violence or other human rights violations;


ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.

*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 49,000 lawyers and 7,400 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Treasurer is the head of the Law Society.

The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information: Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor - Media Relations, at 416-947-7605 or The Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N6,


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890