EU says reversal of Turkish court decision to release Amnesty’s Kılıç undermines justice

Lawyer Taner Kılıç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey.

The European Union (EU) has warned Turkish government on Friday that a Turkish court’s decision to overturn its release of Taner Kılıç, chairman of the board of Amnesty International Turkey, damaged the country’s standing, saying the need to uphold court judgments was crucial for better EU-Turkey ties.

In a statement, the EU said the reversal of the release of Kılıç, was one of the “worrying developments undermining the rule of law and independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Turkey.”

“The non-implementation of judgments … risks setting an unfortunate precedent as it casts serious doubts about the existence of effective legal remedy,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a statement.

“Concrete and lasting improvements in the area of rule of law and fundamental freedoms remain essential to the prospects of EU-Turkey relations,” they said.

A lawyer, a founding member of AI Turkey and chairman of its board of directors since 2014, Kılıç was arrested by an İzmir court on June 9 along with 22 other attorneys as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement.

On July 5 Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained Al’s Turkey chief Idil Eser, İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Nalan Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmus Özbekli, Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association and two foreign trainers, Ali Garawi and Peter Steudtner.

An İstanbul court on Oct. 25 ruled to release eight human rights activists, including Eser. On Oct. 26, a court in İzmir ruled for the continuation of the pre-trial detention of Kılıç while combining his case with the activists’ Büyükada case. Kılıç is the only suspect still jailed in the Büyükada case.

The prosecutor alleged a range of charges, including aiding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of being behind a failed coup last year.

During a press conference in Hamburg on July 8 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

On July 11, the pro-government Star daily accused human rights defenders detained in Turkey of being linked to US intelligence agency the CIA and the UK’s MI6, while another pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak, on July 23 claimed that the rights activists had ties to the German BND intelligence service.

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