Turkey should protect human rights defenders and end judicial arbitrariness

Commissioner for Human Rights Strasbourg 8 July 2019
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Turkey should protect human rights defenders and end judicial arbitrariness

“Turkey must take urgent and necessary measures to re-establish trust in its judiciary and repair the damage inflicted on the rule of law during the state of emergency and its aftermath”, said Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of a five-day visit to Turkey. 

The Commissioner stated that the independence of the Turkish judiciary has been seriously eroded during this period, including through constitutional changes regarding the Council of Judges and Prosecutors which are in clear contradiction with Council of Europe standards, and the suspension of ordinary safeguards and procedures for the dismissal, recruitment and appointment of judges and prosecutors. As a result, “the existing tendency of the Turkish judiciary to put the protection of the state above that of human rights was significantly reinforced, and the criminal process appears to often be reduced to a mere formality, especially in terrorism-related cases. In countless other cases, the judiciary is literally bypassed even for measures seriously affecting individuals’ core human rights, such as certain travel restrictions or the right to practise as a lawyer”, the Commissioner said.

“Turkey has the right and duty to fight against terrorism and criminal organisations, including in response to the attempted coup d’état of 15 July 2016. There is no security without respect for human rights and at the same time people cannot enjoy human rights if they do not feel secure. Disregarding human rights in this fight against terrorism undermines the rule of law and trust in the justice system.”

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