2022 JusticeMakers Fellows

Hatice Savranlioglu

With 5 years of criminal defence practice, Hatice Savranlioglu currently works as a freelance lawyer. She currently serves as Legal Aid Commissioner at the Kilis Bar Association and as Project Coordinator for the Association’s Refugee Access to Justice project. After graduating from law school in 2016, Hatice has taken on an active role at the Kilis Bar Association, where she has worked on accessing justice for persons under Temporary Protection in Turkey. In addition, she took part in the Refugee Access to Justice Project, which was carried out in cooperation with UNHCR and TBB, through Kilis Bar Association. Living in Kilis, a border province to Syria, Hatice sees it as an important mission for her to help refugees living in the city seek and achieve their legal rights.

Hatice’s project is aimed to ensure that the fairest legal result is obtained by making the beneficiary (in this case Syrians under Temporary Protection in Turkey) feel safer in the presence of a lawyer in the criminal proceedings, the investigation phase, and the prosecution phase, where human rights violations are most common. She aims to implement this project in cooperation with Kilis Bar Association, local Law Enforcement Institutions and NGOs, as well as with the help of other lawyers and translators.

Serhat Hicri

Serhat Hicri works as a freelance attorney for the Sanliurfa Bar Association. After becoming a member of the Refugee Rights Commission at the Sanliurfa Bar Association Serhat realized that Syrians rarely know enough about their legal rights in Turkey and therefore cannot benefit from the Turkish justice system. This motivated him to work full-time in the field of refugee law. He became one of the first employees at the Sanliurfa Law Clinic, established in cooperation with UNHCR and TBB. Working at the Clinic, he has gained extensive knowledge in providing legal support to persons with Temporary Protection in Turkey. In Addition, he has experience in holding information sessions (legal trainings) to refugees as well as training trainee lawyers to increase the number of lawyers in this field. Serhat’s project aims to provide free legal support to victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) who are either women or children. The main objective of the project is to create trust by providing representation to beneficiaries in institutions. The basic service provided in the project is to accompany the beneficiaries at every stage of the process, as one of the most common problems that beneficiaries encounter in practice is the inability to complete transactions in institutions due to different barriers (i.e., language, lack of information, fear of deportation). Since the beneficiaries are accompanied, the legal problem of the beneficiary will be resolved with appropriate interventions if the possible problems that may arise in the institutions. This project will facilitate the access of vulnerable groups to justice by providing legal support for the measures within the scope of Law No. 6284 for women victims of violence and Law No. 5395 for children under the age of 18. Serhat aims to provide legal support to a total of 300 women and children and to organise information sessions on the topic for a total of 1000 beneficiaries. He will be cooperating with NGOs and public institutions in order to effectively implement this project..

Esra Yurum Aktaş

Esra has established her own law office in Sanliurfa where she currently works as a lawyer and law consultant. She has 10 years of criminal defence experience and has worked in the field of refugee law for 8 years. She has been a member of the Sanliurfa Bar Association for 10 years and has served as the coordinator for the Association’s Women’s Rights and Refugee Rights centres. She participated in the establishment of the Refugee Rights Centre at the Sanliurfa Bar Association. The core idea of Esra’s project is to cooperate with different administrative and judicial institutions in Sanliurfa and build on her network at the Sanliurfa Bar Association, in order to provide access to justice for Syrian refugees. Through this type of cooperation, she aims to improve refugee rights awareness in society and foster effective solutions that immediately ensure that Syrian refugees legal needs are met.

Elif Koçaslan

Elif Koçaslan currently works as a lawyer for the Gaziantep Bar Association, where she has worked since 2015. In addition, she is currently serving as the Coordinator of the Child Rights Commission at the Bar. Elif has been working actively for 6 years at Gaziantep Bar Association’s Child Rights Commission. She has served as a member of both the executive board of the Commission as well as a member of the Council board from time to time. Ever since she was elected a Member of the Board for the Gaziantep Bar Association, she has served as the Coordinator of the Commission. Her experience has led her to become successful in implementing and leading different projects. Elif’s project aims to ensure better representation of refugee children and women in criminal cases. The idea is to first identify the obstacles that refugee women and children have experienced in courthouses or official institutions to subsequently be able to support them with advocacy services in this regard. The project will follow-up on criminal cases that have been or will be brought against refugee women and children and will provide legal aid to refugees who cannot use their right of representation.

Cumali Simsek

With 9 years of criminal defence practice, Cumali Simşek is a founding member of the Immigration and Asylum Commission at the Gaziantep Bar Association. He has been serving as the Chairman of the Commission since January 2020. Cumali holds a Legal Aid Agreement with Care International and is providing legal aid services to refugees under this contract. Additionally, he is the Gaziantep representative of the International Refugee Rights Association. Cumali’s project will be based in three Turkish cities: Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Kilis. It is a legal aid project that focuses on strengthening refugees’ access to justice in the field of criminal and administrative law. The aim of the project is to solve the problems of refugees who have difficulties in accessing justice due to different barriers in society (i.e., language and financial barriers as well as ignorance of the Turkish legal system). In addition, the project aims to raise awareness about the Turkish legal system to beneficiaries of the project through awareness raising seminars. As a result of the project, refugees will gain better knowledge of the Turkish legal system and those who had difficulties accessing the justice system in the past, will be able to take legal action.