Turkey hasn’t shown much improvement in human rights within past year: EP rapporteur

Nacho Sánchez Amor

Nacho Sánchez Amor, an MEP from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, said there hasn’t been much improvement in Turkey within the past year in terms of human rights and the rule of law, Turkish Minute reported, citing the T24 news website.

“The mood is as it was for the last year, and this is very discouraging. …There are no major changes, and that is regrettable,” Amor told reporters on Friday after a six-day visit to Turkey, referring to the continued imprisonment of Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş.

Kavala, a well-known figure in Turkish civil society, has been jailed since October 2017, while Demirtaş, former co-leader of the second-largest opposition party in Turkey, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been in prison since he was arrested on politically motivated charges in November 2016.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has failed to free either of them despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in favor of their release.

Amor also said the prosecution in the case against Kavala “created a political figure that didn’t exist before” and that now in Europe, people interested in such matters knew about the philanthropist.

The Kavala case is “a representative of this continuing problem” regarding the rule of law in Turkey, the rapporteur said, yet again criticizing “Turkish authorities’ failure to respect their own legal system by their non-compliance with the ECtHR rulings.”

Amor further said that it was “very regrettable” for Turkey’s judiciary, prosecutors in particular, to interpret the law in a way that any criticism of state officials, from the media to private persons, could trigger an indictment.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of the president or his government as an insult.

The rapporteur also praised Turkey’s “crystal clear commitment” in the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, its approach to the Paris Agreement and climate change, and its continued handling of the refugee issue. Turkey’s relations with the European Union are also on a positive path, the rapporteur said.

“There is a new, positive mood in our relations. We are in the process of regaining trust,” he said.

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