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23rd of May – Alert Day for the Independence of Justice

Every 23rd of May, MEDEL celebrates the Alert Day for the Independence of Justice paying tribute to Giovanni Falcone and his commitment to Justice, that eventually brought to the sacrifice of his life, together with his wife, judge Francesca Morvillo, and three police officers in charge of their security.

This year MEDEL wants to honour the example of those judges and prosecutors who in time of war, under illiberal, authoritarian and obscurantist regimes, committed themselves to ensure the existence of an independent judiciary.

We cannot let silence fall on the current situation in Afghanistan. MEDEL calls once again the international community to implement any possible action for protecting those judges, prosecutors and lawyers – particularly women – who  worked to establish an effective and independent justice system and are now experiencing serious threats to their lives.

In Europe, we are still witnessing the effects of the devastating war in Ukraine. Such a violent disruption of international legality calls us to support the resilience of the Ukrainian judicial system, while promoting the redress of gross violations of fundamental rights. Justice is the precondition to restore a peaceful and free existence for the Ukrainian people.

Within the borders of the Union, Poland continues to be the clearest example of how, through the attack on the independence of judicial systems and individual judges, the entire European common area of justice and the ECHR system we have built can be called into question. Against the backdrop of a democratic backsliding that runs counter to the very principle of separation of powers and deprives citizens of the guarantee of effective and impartial judicial protection, the resilience of independent judges, prosecutors, and their associations is a major bulwark of paramount Rule of Law values. The same resilient, independent judges bear the burden of reaffirming the primacy of European Union law and of the fundamental rights written in our Charters, without withdrawing under the threat of disciplinary and judicial proceedings, suspensions, and harassment.

From the Sincan prison where he has been detained since October 2016, serving a ten-years sentence issued in violation of all minimum guarantees of a fair trial simply on the basis of his loyalty to Rule of Law and democracy, Murat Arslan continues to be the most vivid and courageous advocate of the values underlying an independent and resilient Justice.

Murat Arslan-president of the Association of Judges and Prosecutors “Yarsav”- is the ultimate symbol of the courageous resistance of all Turkish colleagues who have suffered arbitrary repression and deprivation of personal freedom for representing and defending these values.

While urging once again the immediate release of Murat Arslan and the full reinstatement of all judges and prosecutors unfairly dismissed, MEDEL recalls the words Murat wrote from his prison when he was awarded the Václav Havel Human Rights prize in 2017.

We fight for judicial independence and impartiality, rule of law, and democracy. We were guided by values that aim at full independence, contemporary civilization based on equality, laicism, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms. We resist to all kinds of interruptions, which threatened these fundamental values. We struggled with defeating the rise of wall of fear where society was locked up”.

These words are by far the best message we can convey to support all judges and prosecutors who are struggling for the independence of Justice and the Rule of the Law.

May 23rd, 2023

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