Amnesty International’s Europe Regional Director Nils Muižnieks has written an article addressing the European governments regarding the violations of rights in Turkey and the country’s failure to enforce ECtHR judgements.
Nils Muižnieks, the Director of Amnesty International’s Europe Office, has penned an article addressing the governments of European countries, underlining that Turkey is “ramping up political persecution.”
“Turkey’s disregard for human rights has recently become particularly brazen. It is not only jailing innocent journalists, human rights defenders, protesting students and social media activists, it is also ramping up political persecution and ignoring European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings to release people unjustly imprisoned,” Muižnieks has emphasized, making the following call to the European governments:
“It is time for European governments to ratchet up the pressure and demand Turkey’s compliance with its obligations and not be blinded by the lofty statements in the long-awaited human rights action plan announced by President Erdoğan on 2 March. The deep erosion in the justice system can only be reversed through a root and branch reform.”
Referring to Turkey’s failure to enforce the ECtHR judgements of right violation for businessperson and rights defender Osman Kavala and former Co-Chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and their continued imprisonment, Muižnieks has said:
“What can the Council of Europe (CoE) and its member states do when a country shows brazen disregard for the obligations under the European Convention? One tool – launching ‘infringement proceedings’ against a recalcitrant state – has only been used once in the case of Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan. Amnesty International is urging all CoE member states to institute such an ‘infringement procedure’ against Turkey to show their resolve against political persecution.”
Other highlights from the article are as follows:
‘Turkey’s response was to spit in the face’
“A stark sign of disengagement from ‘business as usual’ for Turkey has been its refusal to release two leading figures who have been wrongly imprisoned for more than three and four years respectively – Osman Kavala, a philanthropist and pillar of Turkish civil society, and Selahattin Demirtaş, a political opposition leader, both of whom I know personally.
“The European Court, whose rulings Turkey has accepted as binding, has issued judgments calling for the immediate release of both men.
“In rulings that found a violation of the rarely invoked Article 18 of the ECHR, the Court found that their detention and imprisonment ‘pursued an ulterior purpose’, namely, to silence them and stifle pluralism. In short, it found that these were cases of political persecution.
“The Committee of Ministers has already called three times for the release of Kavala, who has been detained since October 2017. It should do the same for Demirtaş when it meets again in March.
“Turkey’s response has been to spit in the face of the rest of Europe by slapping new, unfounded charges on both men, demonstrating the clearly political nature of the cases.
‘Launch a special inquiry’
“The Demirtaş case has followed a similar logic. A leader of Peoples’ Democratic Party, the HDP, the second largest opposition parties, he is in pre-trial detention on baseless charges of ‘terrorism’.
“At the same time the European Court issued its final ruling in Demirtaş’ favour in December 2020, a new 3,000+ page indictment against him and 107 others was accepted by a Turkish court.
“What can the Council of Europe and its member states do when a country shows brazen disregard for the obligations under the European Convention?
“One tool – launching infringement proceedings’ against a recalcitrant state – has only been used once in the case of Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan.
“Amnesty International is urging all CoE member states to institute such an “infringement procedure” against Turkey to show their resolve against political persecution.
“Another step would be for the Secretary General – the political head of the CoE – to launch a special inquiry into why these judgments are not being implemented. This tool has only been used four times in the last 20 years, most recently against Azerbaijan again on Ilgar Mammadov.
“Parliamentary Assembly and monitoring mechanisms also have various tools at their disposal to exert pressure on a recalcitrant member state.
“Member states will be aware that Turkey is one of the largest recipients of CoE co-operation activities, amounting to millions of euros each year.
“As such, they have a duty to ensure that their financial contributions do not make them complicit in shoring up a government that is undermining the whole human rights system and engaging in political persecution.”
‘Time for delay, dithering is over’
Concluding his remarks, Muižnieks has reiterated his call for the release of Demirtaş and Kavala, briefly saying:
“But the Turkish authorities have shown that no amount of dialogue will free these men. They are innocent and should be released. The time for delay and dithering is over. It is impossible to pretend that Turkey continues to cooperate and fulfil its obligations in good faith.” (EKN/SD)