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

Giovanni Falcone, Source: Wikipedia

Every 23rd of May, MEDEL honours the memory of Giovanni Falcone, the Italian judge assassinated by the mafia on this day, in 1992, having declared this date as the Alert Day for the Independence of Justice

This year, we honour the memory of the brave judges and prosecutors (and their families) from Turkey who also gave their lives after being unfairly imprisoned.

Every 23rd of May, MEDEL honours the memory of Giovanni Falcone, the Italian judge assassinated by the mafia on this day, in 1992, having declared this date as the Alert Day for the Independence of Justice.

The independence of the Judiciary is not an empty concept – it is the cornerstone of any free and democratic society. Without free judiciary there can be no respect for Human Rights or Fundamental Freedoms.

During this past year we have continued to witness a breakdown of the Rule of Law in many countries.

In Hungary and Poland, the attacks against brave and independent judges and prosecutors have increased in number and intensity, while the local governments show total disrespect for the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union or the European Court of Human Rights.

In Turkey, Murat Arslan, the President of YARSAV (MEDEL’s member association) remains in prison, serving a 10 years conviction after a judgement that has not met any criteria of a due process of law.

Just as we remember the memory of Giovanni Falcone, that paid the supreme price for defending the fundamental value of an independent Judiciary, in this day MEDEL wants to remember the judges and prosecutors from Turkey who also gave their lives after being unfairly imprisoned and whose only fault was standing courageously in the frontline of the defence of the Independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law:

  • Teoman Gökçe (June 2018 / found dead in his prison cell);
  • Mustafa Erdoğan (August 2017 / 4 days after his release);
  • Mehmet Tosun (died in hospital after release);
  • Seyfettin Yiğit (September 2016 / found dead in his prison cell);
  • Teoman Gökçe (held in confinement for 2 years, died of heart attack in prison);
  • Alparslan Güngör (April 2021 / after 3 years in jail).

To this list, we must add the names of all the spouses, children and other relatives of judges and prosecutors that died after persecution or when trying to escape in extreme conditions (https://www.freejudges.eu/report/report-judges-and-prosecutors-losing-their-lives-due-to-the-persecution-of-erdogans-government-under-coup-pretext/).

By remembering their names, MEDEL honours their memory and wants to assure that, just as Giovanni Falcone, their example will live on.

MEDEL once again stresses what it said in this same day in 2020: these are dark times for the judiciary all over the world, and especially in Europe. It is precisely in moments like these that we need to raise our voices and stand up for the fundamental values on which Europe must be built: respect for fundamental rights and freedoms; separation of powers and independence of the Judiciary.

This is what we owe to the memory of Giovanni Falcone and all those who sacrificed for Justice.

May 23rd, 2021

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