CoE Secretary General Jagland warns Turkey on rights violations

Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.

In a stern warning to mass rights violations that takes place in a member country, Turkey, the Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland delivered a harsh statement as Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ visits Strasbourg.

“It is imperative for Turkey and Europe that the judicial safeguards for all those who have been dismissed or are in prison are based on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights”, Jagland said.

He warned that “If their cases are not being dealt with soon by the Turkish Constitutional Court, the European Court will probably consider whether this is an effective domestic remedy, and just start dealing with their complaints.”

About 130,000 people have been purged from state bodies, 92,000 detained and 45,000 arrested in Turkey since July 15, 2016, a move that is unprecedented in Turkey’s history.

Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian.

Stockholm Center for Freedom, an advocacy group that monitors rights violations in Turkey, issued a report on Wednesday, saying that the number of jailed journalist has reached to a new record of 200 with Germany’s Die Welt, Deniz Yücel being among new arrestees.

Of these journalists, 179 are arrested pending trial and without a conviction. Most of the journalists do not even know what the charges are or what evidence, if any, the government has because the indictments were not filed yet.

CoE’s Jagland underlined that the situation for these people is critical because many have been in pre-trial detention for several months.

He also dealt with the commission set up by Turkish government to listen complaints by those who were purged, detained and arrested. The commission has not started its work yet as its members were not determined by the government.

Jagland noted that “The Commission that will be set up in Turkey to go through the cases for those who have been dismissed, organisations that have been closed, schools and news outlets that have been closed, private property that has been confiscated, must work independently and on the basis of the ECHR.”

He went on saying that “the European Court of Human Rights  (ECtHR) will decide, if it gets complaints, whether this has been a proper domestic remedy. The cases for journalists and parliamentarians that are in pre-trial detention will be dealt with in ordinary Turkish courts. But also these people have the right to complain to the European Court. It will look into whether the Turkish courts have ruled on the basis of the ECHR.”

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ attended to CoE’s Committee of Ministers meeting on Wednesday as part of an exchange of views with other member states.

March 1, 2017

 

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