Turkey: ad hoc Sub-Committee proposes continuing dialogue while reopening the monitoring procedure, says Chair Mogens Jensen

“It is the right and duty of the State to identify and punish those responsible for the coup attempt, and it is also its duty to protect its citizens and fight terrorism in all its forms. But responses can only be ultimately effective if given in the framework of the rule of law. This is not altered by the fact that Turkey faces a real terrorist threat, as the latest tragic twin terrorist attack in Istanbul sadly confirmed once more”, said Mogens Jensen (Denmark, SOC), Chair of the ad hoc* Sub-Committee on recent developments in Turkey, in presenting the report of the fact-finding visit to Ankara from 21 to 23 November 2016.

According to the report, there is no doubt that the declaration of a state of emergency and the granting of extraordinary powers to the government was justified to respond to the armed conspiracy and the brutal coup attempt of 15 July. However, “it is also beyond any doubt that the measures taken by the government, in interpreting too widely these powers, went beyond what is allowed by both the Turkish Constitution and the international law”, the text underlines.

“Our delegation was, in particular, - Mr Jensen said - alarmed by the fact that both serious administrative sanctions with a permanent character, such as dismissals affecting more than hundred thousand persons, and criminal law measures, such as arrests and detention of tens of thousands, seem to be decided upon weak or in some cases seemingly non-existent evidence and vague criteria”.

Mr Jensen called on the authorities “to release, pending trial, all journalists and writers”, to restore the inviolability of MPs and “to release all those who are detained pending trial”. The detention of 12 MPs belonging to the second opposition party, after the immunity of so many MPs had been lifted, “does not send the right message about Turkish democracy”, he said.

In the opinion of the Sub-Committee, it is necessary to re-open the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey. At the same time, it considered that challenging the credentials of the Turkish parliamentary delegation would not only be erroneous but also counterproductive. “We should count on the continuing and full co-operation with the Turkish parliamentary delegation”, the Sub-Committee stressed.

Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe since the beginning of the Organisation”, Mr Jensen concluded, and “should remain a member of our family”.

PACE Committee on Political Affairs also asked today that the PACE hold a debate on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey at its forthcoming plenary session (23-27 January 2017).

*Chair of the Sub-Committee: Mogens Jensen (Denmark, SOC). Members (representing PACE Political Groups): Deborah Bergamini (Italy, EPP/CD), Josette Durrieu (France, SOC), Kelly Tolhurst (United Kingdom, EC), Anne Brasseur (Luxembourg, ALDE), George Loucaides (Cyprus, UEL).