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Situation in Turkey

Statement
Strasbourg 20/07/2016
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Situation in Turkey

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the contemptible attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government in Turkey. I rejoice in the fact that the Turkish people unambiguously foiled this attempt, and that all democratic political currents and leaders stood united against it.

There is no doubt that the perpetrators of this attempted coup, who have caused the loss of many lives and injuries, must now face the full force of the law. However, the authorities must bear in mind that there is no justice without human rights and the rule of law. An independent judiciary is the ultimate guarantee that these principles will be upheld. In this context, I join many international bodies in expressing my profound concern about the fact that nearly one fifth of all the members of Turkey’s judiciary have been arrested or suspended so far for suspected involvement in the coup attempt. The staggering number of civil servants who have been arrested or dismissed in such a short period of time following the attempted coup also raise serious questions regarding equity and due process.

I am also alarmed by images showing torture and ill treatment being inflicted on suspected perpetrators, as well as signs of torture on persons taken into custody, which were published in various media. While I am unable to determine the veracity of such allegations, I must stress that there can be no exception to the prohibition of torture, and this will be the ultimate test of Turkey’s zero-tolerance policy. While freedom of assembly is a democratic right, I am deeply disturbed by reports of mob violence, as well as hate speech and hate crimes against religious minorities and refugees. The authorities should condemn explicitly and do their utmost to stop any such tendency.  I am also very worried by allusions to the possible reinstatement of the death penalty despite Turkey’s clear international undertakings to the contrary.

These events proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the vital importance of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of media, including social media, for any democratic society. I would like to recall the very serious concerns I have expressed on these issues with respect to Turkey, and hope that the Turkish leaders will take resolute measures to implement the recommendations of my Office. Unfortunately, I regret to note that journalists were once more victims of violence, at the hands of coup plotters, as well as of citizens resisting them, and that access to several news media on the internet were blocked once more.

I hope that Turkey will swiftly heal the damage and rifts caused by this shocking event. I will be closely monitoring the situation in the coming days, which will be crucial for the future of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Turkey."

►  Read the reply of the Turkish authorities to the Commissioner’s statement