7 countries pledge to strengthen fight against transnational repression: report

Seven democratic governments have endorsed a new declaration pledging to take greater steps to combat the authoritarian practice of transnational repression, the Washington-based Freedom House reported.

World leaders, who gathered for the online Summit for Democracy 2023 hosted by US President Joe Biden March 28-30, committed to bolstering democracy and combatting authoritarian trends, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and defending against transnational threats and repression.

The Declaration of Principles to Combat Transnational Repression, signed by the governments of Australia, Germany, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and the United States, affirms that “transnational repression is a threat to democracy and human rights worldwide.”

According to the signatories of this declaration, transnational repression is an issue requiring urgent attention and response. They commit to working to address impunity, build resilience and protect the vulnerable.

The declaration is an initiative of the Resisting Authoritarian Pressure cohort, which was established by Freedom House, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Alliance of Democracies during the Year of Action following the first Summit for Democracy in December 2021, Freedom House said.

“Freedom House has documented a growing number of instances where governments are using violence and intimidation to reach beyond their borders to silence dissent,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Authoritarian rulers around the world are becoming more aggressive and more coordinated in their efforts to target civil society. It is all the more urgent for democratic governments to work jointly with one another and with civil society to push back.”

In its annual human rights report on Turkey, the US State Department has first time included the Turkish government’s transnational repression tactics to suppress its critics living abroad.

The report identified the tactics as extraterritorial killing, kidnapping and forced returns; threats, harassment, surveillance and coercion; misuse of international law enforcement tools; and efforts to control mobility.

Since a coup attempt in July 2016 the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has employed extralegal methods to secure the return of its critics after its official extradition requests were denied.

In a joint letter UN rapporteurs accused the Turkish government of engaging in the systematic practice of state-sponsored extraterritorial abductions and forcible returns to Turkey, with at least 100 Turkish nationals renditioned from multiple states to Turkey.

Most recently Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) confirmed in its annual report that it had conducted operations for the forcible return of more than 100 people with alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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