Situation in Turkey: statement by PACE Committee on Political Affairs

Following an exchange of views today, on the situation in Turkey, with representatives of both majority and opposition political forces from Turkey, the Political Affairs Committee recalls the concerns expressed in the report published by its ad hoc Sub-Committee which visited Ankara in November 2016, as regards:

- the disproportionality of the government response to the failed coup of 15 July 2016 which was strongly condemned by the Committee and the Council of Europe as a whole; this concerns in particular the dismissals of hundreds of thousands of persons, closure of associations, detention of tens of thousands of persons, etc.;

- freedom of the media and the chilling effect of measures such as detention of journalists and closure of media outlets;

- lifting of the immunity of some 154 MPs and detention of a dozen of MPs, including the co-chairs of the second opposition party, HDP; the Committee regrets that neither its ad hoc Sub-Committee nor the Monitoring Committee rapporteurs or the Presidential Committee were allowed to meet the co-chairs of the HDP;

- ongoing constitutional reform and the need to ensure checks and balances, as well as a wide public consultation.

The Committee takes note with satisfaction of measures taken on the eve of the opening of the Assembly’s January part-session, providing for:

- the setting up of an administrative commission to review all cases of dismissals, closure of associations, institutions, trade unions and media outlets, whose decisions can be appealed before the Turkish courts;

- the reduction of the police custody from 30 to 7 days, which may be prolonged for 7 more days in exceptional circumstances;

- the abolition of the limitation of access to a lawyer for 5 days.

The Committee notes that these measures seem to be in line with recommendations by the Secretary General of the Organisation, which were backed by the ad hoc sub-committee, and could be considered as a step in the right direction provided that the decisions by the new administrative commission are taken rapidly, independently and transparently.

However, much remains to be done to ensure that the Turkish Government’s response to the coup attempt fully complies with Council of Europe standards. We encourage the Turkish government to continue to work with the Council of Europe in designing constitutional and legislative changes to ensure such compliance.