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PACE calls on Turkish authorities ‘to put an end to laws and practices that contravene democratic standards’

Hemicycle / Session / Hémicycle

The Assembly today strongly reiterated its call on the Turkish authorities “to put an end to laws and practices that contravene democratic standards, to revise its legislation and constitutional framework in order to ensure the separation of powers, to restore freedom of speech and media freedom, to restrict the interpretation of its anti-terror legislation, and to implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights”.

At the end of an urgent debate on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey, the parliamentarians also stated that the presidential decision of 20 March 2021 to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention - which aims to combat violence against women and domestic violence - constitutes “a step backwards for the country”. They deeply regretted that this decision was taken “without any parliamentary debate and on account of misleading narratives” and requested the expertise of the Venice Commission to prepare a comparative study on the modalities of ratification and denunciation of the Council conventions.

The adopted resolution, based on a report prepared by Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden, SOC) and John Howell (United Kingdom, EC / DA), notes with concern the procedures aimed at lifting the parliamentary immunity of one third of parliamentarians – mostly from the opposition – as well as the attempt to dissolve the People's Democratic Party (HDP) and the repression of its members. The Assembly therefore “urges the Turkish authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment of parliamentarians and refrain from submitting numerous summaries of proceedings seeking the undue lifting of their immunity which gravely impedes the exercise of their political mandate” as well as to political pluralism.

The text also calls for the immediate release of former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and philanthropist Osman Kavala “in application of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights of 2020 and subsequent decisions of the Committee of Ministers, which is supervising their implementation”.

According to the Assembly, the Turkish authorities should seize the opportunity of implementing the Human Rights Action Plan and revising the legislation on elections and political parties to take “concrete and meaningful steps”, which thus respect the obligations arising from their Council of Europe membership.