The Witness Protection Act, a part of the “Law of Police Powers”, entered into force in 2008 in Turkey. Following the act, several people have been imprisoned by the testimonies of secret witnesses. Large numbers of political prisoners have been convicted and held in prisons due to these kinds of testimonies.
Lawyer Ercan Kanar spoke to Yadigar Aygün from Yeni Yaşam about the Witness Protection Act.
Kanar states that the right to a fair trial is violated when people are arrested and convicted due to the testimonies of ‘secret witnesses’ and ‘confessors’.
“Secret witnesses, in fact, have been a significant danger for those facing trials for the past thirteen years in Turkey”, he noted.
Judgements had been made until 2002 using testimonies of people who had been tortured. Since then, testimonies of ‘secret witnesses’ have been used to charge people. Such testimonies ensure that “justice becomes unreliable”, he concluded.
Kanar draws attention to the fact that several people were unjustly sentenced to ‘aggravated life imprisonment’ due to the testimonies of secret witnesses and ‘confessors’. He points out that justice is not ‘fair’ or ‘independent’ in Turkey.
Instead, he stresses that secret witnesses and confessors are used in several cases: “One secret witness joins almost 40 or 50 cases. When we appeal to the Witness Protection Committee to hear the secret witness, we are mostly rejected”.
He adds that when they appeal to security offices to hear the witness, the result is the same.
Kanar asserts that: “Judgements are made by means of secret witnesses in Turkey”. He suggests that campaigns should be launched against the Witness Protection Act, to demand and defend people’s right to a fair trial.