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Yves Cruchten: ‘Turkish civil society must be able to fully enjoy the right to freedom of association and expression’

Following a visit to Ankara on 5 and 6 April, as part of the preparation of his report on “Preventing inappropriate restrictions on NGO activities in Europe”, Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg, SOC) made the following statement:

“Turkey is facing a serious terrorist threat, which has led it to declare a state of emergency and to derogate from certain fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. Nevertheless, some measures taken in this context, such as the closure of more than 1,500 NGOs, have the effect of narrowing the space for civil society to express itself. These measures must be proportionate and limited to the objective they are intended to achieve, namely the fight against terrorism.

I call on the Turkish authorities to lift the state of emergency as quickly as possible and to ensure that civil society, a key component of a democratic society, can fully enjoy the right to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly.”

During his fact-finding visit, the rapporteur met with Members of Parliament, the Deputy Ombudsman dealing with human rights, senior officials of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Director General for Foundations. He also met several civil society representatives.