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The situation of opposition politicians in Turkey is worsening, says PACE

Following an urgent debate held in plenary session in Strasbourg, PACE noted “the worsening of the situation of opposition politicians in Turkey” and called on the Turkish authorities to respect fully their rights and freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

Following the co-rapporteurs' conclusions on this issue, Marianne Mikko (Estonia, SOC) and Nigel Evans (United Kingdom, EC), the Assembly recommended, in particular, guaranteeing parliamentary immunity, and called the Turkish authorities to “release MPs and former MPs whose immunity was stripped in 2016 in violation of the Council of Europe standards”.

In this context, in the case Demirtaş v. Turkey, the Assembly called on Turkey to fully implement the Chamber judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

In the resolution adopted today, the Assembly also recalled concerns expressed in its previous resolutions regarding restrictions on freedom of expression and the media, the detention and imprisonment of opposition parliamentarians, former parliamentarians and local elected representatives who have “obstructed or undermined the ability of opposition politicians to exercise their rights and fulfil their democratic roles both inside and outside parliament”.

While welcoming the Turkish authorities’ constructive engagement with the Council of Europe, notably through the Working Group between the Council of Europe and the Turkish Ministry of Justice, PACE called the authorities to repeal Article 299 (insulting the President of the Republic) and amend Article 301 (degrading the Turkish Nation, the State of the Turkish Republic, the Organs and Institutions of the State) of the Penal Code, articles which challenge the freedom of expression.

In addition, the parliamentarians called for the amendment of the anti-terror law and the revision of the electoral legislation in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission – in particular by lowering the 10% electoral threshold, which impedes the ability of the opposition to be represented in parliament. The constitutional reforms of 2017 must also be reviewed “to restore proper balance of and effective separation between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power,” said PACE, which stressed the citizens’ diversity of opinions and their aspiration for genuine choice between parties and political programmes.

The Parliamentary Assembly will follow progress as regard its recommendations in the framework of its ongoing monitoring procedure.