Over 40 Int’l organisations call on Turkey to end ‘state of emergency legislation’

Over 40 international organizations have called on Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to end legislation which they say prolongs the anti-democratic effects of a state of emergency that was declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The state of emergency ended in July 2018 after almost two years in effect since its declaration on July 20, 2016. However, new legislation that has been introduced, including laws that extend periods of detention without charge, allow governors to ban individuals from entering their provinces and bar public assemblies at will and grant the government the authority to arbitrarily dismiss public officials, has made some of the worst aspects of the state of emergency permanent, according to a statement released by “Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey” on behalf of more than 40 international organizations.

“The adoption of rights-restricting laws that closely mirror those in force during the state of emergency makes a mockery of the government’s claim to have ended the state of emergency; if anything, it seems to be making the state of emergency more permanent,” the statement said.

“These provisions harm and restrict the rights of individuals who are not genuine security threats to Turkey’s government or citizens, but who are critical of government policies or defending human rights- at a time when reconciliation would help to restore prosperity,” it continued.

The list of organizations backing the statement includes branches from the international writers’ advocacy group PEN, Reporters Without Borders and others from Venezuela, Tunisia, Albania and even the Pacific islands.

“If Turkey’s government wishes to be recognized as a responsible state that upholds human rights, it must commit to ending the specific practices and policies that violate those rights,” said the statement.

The full text of the statement is as follows:

“A permanent state of emergency by any name is no substitute for respecting human rights

We the undersigned organizations call on Turkey’s government to follow through on its promise to end the state of emergency by withdrawing recently passed legislation that replicates many of the state of emergency’s special provisions.

The adoption of rights-restricting laws that closely mirror those in force during the state of emergency makes a mockery of the government’s claim to have ended the state of emergency; if anything, it seems to be making the state of emergency more permanent.

Many of the new provisions continue to violate universally recognized human rights, including those to freedoms of thought, expression, peaceful demonstration and assembly.

Amongst the new legislation we believe violate fundamental rights and must be repealed, we would highlight:

  • The extension of detention without charge to up to 12 days via amendment of Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism law;
  • The granting of the authority to ban individuals from the passage between and within provinces to provincial governors, and to forbid public assemblies at their discretion;
  • The renewal of arbitrary authority to dismiss individuals from academic, public and judicial service, and authority to confiscate the passports of those dismissed;
  • The relaxation of judicial review of the cases of individuals in pre-trial detention, from requiring in-person or video presentation of the detainee in court every 30 days, to requiring visual review only every 90 days.

These provisions harm and restrict the rights of individuals who are not genuine security threats to Turkey’s government or citizens, but who are critical of government policies or defending human rights- at a time when reconciliation would help to restore prosperity. 

We must emphasize that the concerns of neither Turkish citizens nor the international community will be addressed by simply changing the laws under which rights violations are rationalized. If Turkey’s government wishes to be recognized as a responsible state that upholds human rights, it must commit to ending the specific practices and policies that violate those rights.

Signed by,

Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Albanian Media Institute
ARTICLE 19
Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias América Latina y el Caribe (AMARC ALC)
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Bytes for All (B4A)
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Freedom Forum
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
Index on Censorship
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
International Press Centre (IPC)
Maharat Foundation
Mediacentar Sarajevo
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Watch
Norwegian PEN
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
PEN American Center
PEN Canada
PEN International
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
South East Europe Media Organisation
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State

Articolo 21
Association of European Journalists
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
European Federation of Journalists
Fair Trials
Frontline Defenders
German PEN
Italian Press Federation
Global Editors Network
Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES)”

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