Members of the European Parliament called a bill approved by the Turkish legislature that excludes political prisoners from an amnesty provision “a great disappointment” and a deliberate exposure of the lives of political opponents to the risk of the deadly coronavirus, also calling on the European Court of Human Rights to speed up its verdicts in order to save lives.
European Parliament standing rapporteur on Turkey, Nacho Sánchez Amor, and chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Sergey Lagodinsky issued a joint statement on April 15.
“The legal amendments by the Turkish Parliament allowing the release of 90.000 prisoners, but excluding those imprisoned for their political activities and citizens in pre-trial detention, is a great disappointment. We had hoped that the Turkish Parliament would adopt a fair, responsible and non-discriminatory law that would save lives from being lost in overcrowded Turkish prisons. Such a law is needed, especially for those unjustly detained and imprisoned for political reasons,” they said.
“Instead, the Turkish ruling parties have decided to deliberately expose the lives of journalists, human rights defenders and those whom they deem to be political opponents to the risk of the deadly disease COVID 19.
“The EU and its member states must address this problem with their Turkish counterparts at all levels. We also call upon the European Court for Human Rights to speed up necessary verdicts in the cases of citizens imprisoned and detained in Turkey for political reasons, but also to save lives, given the risk of epidemics in overcrowded Turkish prisons.
“We express our continued solidarity with the Turkish people in these difficult times, in which we are all together on the same side in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge Turkey’s readiness to help and sincerely appreciate Turkish medical support to foreign countries, including to EU countries like Italy and Spain. We reiterate that the EU is also ready to support Turkey in its fight against the virus. This challenge is huge and we want to fight it together in a democratic and non-discriminatory manner, saving the lives of all citizens regardless of their political views, affiliations or convictions,” they concluded.
The Turkish Parliament on April 14 passed an early parole bill that will reduce the inmate population as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic to the country’s overcrowded prisons. The bill excludes political prisoners along with some other offenders.