Turkish Law Students Make History in Human Rights Moot Court

Human Rights TurkeyLaw students in Turkey just made history by participating in the first ever moot court competition for human rights.

The students were stressed, says Serkan Köybaşi, who works in the Law Faculty at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul and was one of the key organisers of the court. “For most of them, it was their first ever moot court, but in the end they were happy and they said they learned a lot about human rights, especially freedom of speech for journalists and censorship,” says Köybaşi.

Moot courts give students the opportunity to take part in simulated court proceedings. In this competition, more than 130 law students from six different law faculties in Istanbul competed for a chance to argue their cases in court.

The students were asked to fill out a constitutional complaint on behalf of a fictional client. In this case, the client was a journalist who had been charged with infringing on the privacy of a government minister after publishing an interview of him. In the fictitious case, the journalist interviewed the government minister, but when the interview ended, the minister said his comments were off the record. The journalist went on to publish the interview and was subsequently charged and fined.

Köybaşi says the students were tasked with writing the constitutional complaint on behalf of the journalist “because the way the system works in Turkey, this complaint could then hypothetically have be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. So it’s a type of case that they could eventually see in the future.”

In the final competition, 20 students from six universities appeared in the simulated court proceedings. The jury chose the team of law students from Kadir Has University in Istanbul as the winner.

Moot court Turkey
Panel members take notes from thepresentation. Serkan Cengiz (Lawyer), Assoc. Prof. Ece Göztepe, Bilkent University, Law Faculty, Ali Riza Çoban, Special Reporter at Constitutional Court.

“All of the students succeeded – they filled out the constitutional complaint forms better than most advocates in Turkey,” says Köybaşi.

Seda Alp, programme officer at RWI, says the Institute assisted in the preparation and fulfilment of the moot court. “This year was like a pilot project, but next year we hope to include universities from the entire country,” she said.

The winners

Kadir Has Üniversitesi (Cansu Ercan, Lütfiye Berfin, Gizem Kutsal, Doğukan Bingöl)

Second place

Özyeğin Üniversitesi (İrem Kol, Semih Akkök, Abdullah Berat Memiş, Batuhan Safa Çikot, İrem Özmumcu)

RWI is also taking the winners to the European Court of Human Rights in October to observe real cases.

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