In a report published today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, calls on the Turkish authorities to restore judicial independence and stop the practice of targeting human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists and silencing them by using administrative and judicial actions. The report is based on the Commissioner’s visit to Turkey carried out in July 2019.
The Commissioner considers that the measures that the authorities took in the aftermath of the state of emergency had devastating consequences on judicial independence and impartiality and threaten the rule of law and human rights in Turkey. Numerous long-standing problems, such as the misuse of detentions on remand, have been exacerbated and compounded by new shortcomings. The Commissioner is alarmed by the fact that the Turkish judiciary displays, especially in terrorism-related cases, unprecedented levels of disregard for even the most basic principles of law, such as presumption of innocence, no punishment without crime and non-retroactivity of offences, or not being judged for the same facts again. At the same time, procedural guarantees such as adversarial proceedings, equality of arms and the right to a lawyer, were significantly and permanently eroded during the state of emergency, resulting in a level of legal uncertainty and arbitrariness which threatens the very essence of the rule of law.