Jagland says jailed journalists and deputies are priority for Council of Europe

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

Thorbjørn Jagland, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, who has referred to the arrests in Turkey, said journalists and members of the Parliament are priority groups for the Council of Europe.

Jagland’s remarks came in response to a question by pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Chairperson Filiz Kerestecioğlu. Kerestecioğlu asked Jagland on the first day of the Parliamentarian Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Summer Session on Wednesday if any steps were taken concerning the jailed members of the Turkish Parliament.

In response Kerestecioğlu’s question, Jagland said: “We are aware that there have been many appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on this first issue. The court has launched initiatives for the journalists. Of course, I can’t speak about the legal procedure for the deputies, but members of parliament and journalists are priority groups for the Council of Europe.”

Hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 11 HDP and one deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) are behind bars on terror charges in Turkey.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), a Stockholm-based monitoring and rights advocacy group, there are a total of 263 jailed journalists in Turkey.

Kerestecioğlu also asked Jagland his opinion about the reports by European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) which were banned in relevant countries.

Referring to the efforts launched by ECtHR for the journalists and the significance of CPT reports calling for their accessibility, Jagland said: “Our fundamental view is that the reports should be accessible. As you know, the CPT’s founding principles that constitute the basis of their activity say the publishing of the reports are subject to relevant countries’ approval. But I for one am always on the side of transparency. I believe it is a positive thing that the CPT builds a relationship based on trust with countries before the reports are published, but of course it is important for the reports to be published.”

HDP Spokesperson Osman Baydemir has also commented on the meeting with Jagland and said that “We exchanged views with Jagland about the state of emergency, imprisonment of journalists and deputies. We expressed our concerns to him over the fulfillment of the international conventions that Turkey is a party to. We conveyed our proposal that the jailed journalists and politicians should be priority groups for the ECtHR. And we once again discussed the responsibility the European institutions are carrying for the freedoms of everyone and institutionalization of democracy.”

HDP Spokesperson Baydemir, HDP Parliamentary Group Deputy Chair Filiz Kerestecioglu and deputies Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Meral Danış Beştaş ve Mithat Sancar have also made a statement in front of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Wednesday.

Speaking on behalf of the HDP delegation, Baydemir highlighted the situation of the imprisoned Co-chairs and parliamentarians of the party and called upon the ECtHR to put the situation of the imprisoned deputies on its agenda.

Stating that 6 million people have put their confidence and support in the HDP, Baydemir said “If Demirtaş is spending the 237th day in prison, if mayors and parliamentarians are still behind bars, you cannot call it legal prosecution, but only an operation of elimination by the government. Courts in Turkey have been turned into an instrument for the suppression of the opposition. AKP leader Erdoğan gives instructions, submits secret documents to courts and prosecutors that thereupon prepare summaries of proceedings against our Co-chairs, Co-mayors and deputies. They are jailed because of those summaries of proceedings prepared on instructions.”

Baydemir continued; “The document you see in my hand (Baydemir had previously disclosed in a parliamentary meeting) is the proof that the court judgements are given on instructions. We once again prove to the ECtHR that Turkey’s domestic remedies have been exhausted and reached a deadlock. Due to the delayed judgements of Turkish courts and the ECtHR, big damages are emerging. Deputies Figen Yüksekdağ and Nursel Aydoğan have been stripped off their parliamentary seats. Ferhat Encü and Besime Konca are also facing the same risk and this is an irreparable situation.”

“Besides politicians, opposition media members, public servants, workers, trade unions and all democratic powers are under a heavy threat and attack. People are being dismissed from their jobs and condemned to hunger. Those going on hunger strike are getting arrested, like Nuriye and Semih whose hunger strike has left 113 days behind,” said Baydemir.

Baydemir added that “We intivite the ECtHR to give a decision and announce it as soon as possible. We reiterate our call for justice here in front of the ECtHR. If we are today standing here, it is because there is no judiciary left in Turkey anymore. Until the freedom of our deputies, Co-mayors and Co-chairs is attained we will continue our march for justice and equality. The ECtHR should give its decision before it becomes too late.” (SCF with turkishminute.com) June 29, 2017

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