Procedure : 2018/2527(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0095/2018

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 08/02/2018 - 12.10
CRE 08/02/2018 - 12.10

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0082/2018

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the current human rights situation in Turkey (2018/2527(RSP))

Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Ignazio Corrao on behalf of the EFDD Group

European Parliament resolution on the current human rights situation in Turkey (2018/2527(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular those of 24 November 2016 on EU-Turkey relations(1), and 27 October 2016 on the situation of journalists in Turkey(2),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

–  having regard to Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which states that the contracting parties undertake to abide by and implement the final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in any case to which they are parties,

–  having regard to the fact that respect for the rule of law, including, in particular, the separation of powers, democracy, freedom of expression and media, human rights, the rights of minorities and religious freedom, freedom of association and peaceful protest, are at the core of the negotiation process, in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria for membership of the European Union,

–  having regard to the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the ECHR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkey is a state party,

–  having regard to the EEAS Spokesperson’s statement of 26 October 2017 on ongoing human rights cases in Turkey,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Turkey’s Government has extended the state of emergency for the sixth time since July 2016; whereas according to Turkey’s constitution, a state of emergency can be declared for a maximum period of six months;

B.  whereas the continued emergency rule has created a de facto presidential system, as well as entrenching the one-man rule of President Erdogan; whereas according to the opposition, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to continue the state of emergency until November 2019, when presidential elections are due;

C.  whereas since the attempted coup, the human rights situation has deteriorated exponentially, as mainly three groups of people have been put under pressure, judicially harassed, arrested and persecuted: anyone suspected of belonging to the Gulenist movement, elected officials and supporters of Kurdish movements, and leading voices and activists from civil society organisations critical of the current government;

D.  whereas no one has been spared as President Erdogan’s purges – in the form of police and judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, travel bans and many other restrictive measures – continue to target a large number of people, including civil servants, academics, ordinary citizens, journalists, lawyers, writers, artists, etc.; whereas judges and prosecutors have themselves been accused and detained in a continued erosion of the rule of law;

E.  whereas after more than 16 months of state of emergency, the numbers of the repression are astonishing; whereas, according to the opposition, the number of people expelled from public service has reached 125 000, while 50 500 people have been arrested and 169 000 have been subject to legal proceedings;

F.  whereas according to a report published by the ECHR for the year 2017, Turkey has violated human rights in 2 988 cases, and is among the countries with the most human rights violations in Europe;

G.  whereas the space for free media has constantly been shrinking in Turkey, which has become one of the worst countries for journalists to operate in; whereas since the coup, six news agencies, 50 newspapers, 18 television channels, 29 publishing houses, 20 magazines, 22 radio stations and 1 520 associations have been banned; whereas 145 journalists have been arrested and 2 500 have been left jobless as a result of the closure of media outlets;

H.  whereas the ad hoc commission created to review decisions made under the state of emergency not only lacks independence, since the members are appointed by the same authorities responsible for approving dismissals and closures, but has so far failed to produce any tangible results;

I.  whereas the rule of law is failing in the country; whereas four separate criminal courts of first instance, under political pressure from the Government, have refused to implement an order of the Turkish Constitutional Court to free Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay following its ruling that those journalists’ rights had been breached; whereas the case of a lower court overruling the constitutional court is legally inconsistent, and whereas legal experts agree that this move puts the whole judicial system of Turkey into serious question;

J.  whereas Turkey’s political opposition is facing fierce repression, with elected officials confronted with increasing difficulties; whereas a number of elected mayors have been dismissed and replaced by appointees of the Minister of the Interior, and officials and Members of Parliament (MPs) have been subject to judicial harassment, arrested and handed down long sentences; whereas the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has been suffering a continuous crackdown, with its co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, nine lawmakers, 80 mayors, and thousands of members imprisoned;

K.  whereas according to HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir, around 10 000 HDP supporters. including mayors and city officials associated with the party, have been arrested following the failed coup;

L.  whereas Leyla Zana, a Sakharov Prize winner and the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Turkish parliament, has been stripped of her status as an MP by a vote in parliament on the grounds that she did not take her parliamentary oath in accordance with Article 81 of the Constitution and has not attended 212 sessions since her election in November 2015; whereas the reasons given for her dismissal appear to be spurious and the vote appears to be highly politicised;

M.  whereas Taner Kılıç, a human rights lawyer and chair of Amnesty Turkey, has been in pre-trial detention since June 2017, charged with ‘membership of an armed terrorist organization’ and, if found guilty, facing up to 15 years in jail; whereas hours after the Istanbul trial court ruled that Kılıç be released conditionally from pre-trial detention, the prosecutor appealed the decision and a second court accepted the appeal, placing Kilic back in jail despite lack of any proof incriminating him;

N.  whereas at a hearing on 25 December 2017 a Turkish judge ordered four journalists and senior staff of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, some of whom had already been detained for 14 months, to remain in prison until the next hearing on 9 March 2018; whereas the trial has been characterised by procedural violations throughout and by lack of respect for the right of defence;

O.  whereas a number of EU citizens have also been charged or detained, including Deniz Yücel, who has spent almost a year in prison, so far without indictment, and reporter Ayla Albayrak, convicted of producing ‘terrorist propaganda’ in Turkey and sentenced in absentia to over two years in prison;

P.  whereas Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two academics, went on hunger strike to denounce the arbitrary mass dismissal of civil servants, but were forced to halt it after 320 days since their health had suffered irreversible harm; whereas their lawyers have also been prosecuted and detained;

Q.  whereas Osman Kavala, founder of the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative and one of the most prominent and respected figures in Turkey’s arts and cultural scene, was arrested in October 2017 and charged with ‘attempting to abolish the constitutional order’, even though no proof was presented before the court;

R.  whereas the Turkish Government is cracking down on anyone opposing or criticising the Turkish military campaign to capture the Kurdish region of Afrin in north-western Syria; whereas over 300 people have been arrested nationwide for their criticism of the Afrin offensive and charged with spreading ‘terrorist propaganda’, among them writers, journalists, students, local leaders and MPs from the HDP; whereas internet sites publishing Afrin news have been blocked;

S.  whereas on 30 January 2018 the Turkish police detained, and searched the homes and workplaces of, eleven members of the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) on the allegation that it was ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organisation’ and ‘instigating people towards grudge and hostility’; whereas the TTB had called for an end to the Turkish military’s operation ‘Olive Branch’ in Afrin;

1.  Expresses its profound concern over the ongoing deterioration of fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey; criticises the Government’s decision to prolong the state of emergency – which has been used as a pretext to quash dissent and crack down on opponents, including politicians, journalists, human rights defenders and activists – and to bypass, on several occasions, parliamentary oversight and review by the constitutional court by ruling through decrees; calls on the Government not to extend the state of emergency further;

2.  Calls on the Turkish authorities to ensure, in all circumstances, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey;

3.  Condemns the use of arbitrary detention and judicial and administrative harassment, to persecute thousands of human rights defenders, members of independent civil society organisations, academics, journalists and anyone opposing the government;

4.  Calls on the Turkish Government to respect the principle of the presumption of innocence, and stresses that the use of pre-trial detention must be in line with the European Convention on Human Rights; asks the Turkish authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into allegations of serious ill-treatment of prisoners, as reported by several human rights organisations, and calls for full accountability and punishment of those guilty of human rights violations; is deeply concerned about detention conditions in the country;

5.  Urges the Turkish Government to release, and drop all charges against, all persons arrested unlawfully, along with all those who have been held in pre-trial detention past the lawful limit and on baseless evidence;

6.  Calls on the Turkish Government to offer all persons subject to restrictive measures appropriate and effective remedies and judicial review in line with the rule of law; notes that, under the ongoing state of emergency, arrested citizens have no right to legal aid during the first five days of their detention, and laments the severe restrictions placed on access to lawyers by detainees;

7.  Calls on the Turkish Government to revise, as a matter of urgency, the ‘Commission of Inquiry for State of Emergency Practices’ in such a way as to make it a robust, independent and fully mandated commission capable of giving individual attention to each case, of processing effectively the enormous number of applications it will receive and of ensuring that judicial review is not unduly delayed;

8.  Calls on the Turkish Government to stop interfering in the judicial system by pressuring judges and prosecutors, by dismissing or arresting them and by confiscating their properties, and to restore and implement all legal guarantees to ensure full respect for the independence of the judiciary;

9.  Condemns the recent decision to strip Leyla Zana of her status as MP; condemns as well previous decisions to do the same to five other HDP MPs; reiterates its solidarity with the legitimately elected Turkish parliamentarians subjected to detention and intimidation; calls on the Turkish Government to respect the mandates of these parliamentarians and their right to a proper defence in court;

10.  Condemns the arbitrary replacement of locally elected representatives, which undermines the democratic structure of Turkey and goes against the will of the voters; calls on the Government to reinstate any locally elected representative deprived of office in the position to which he or she has lawfully been elected;

11.  Strongly condemns the serious backsliding over and violations of freedom of expression and the serious infringements of media freedom, including the disproportionate banning of media sites and social media, the closure of media outlets and the arrest of journalists; recalls that a free and pluralistic press, including a free and open internet, is an essential component of any democracy, and urges the Turkish Government to respect this;

12.  Condemns the statement by the Ankara Governor’s Office of 19 November 2017 regarding the decision to ban indefinitely any event organised by LGBTI organisations; is worried that this follows three consecutive bannings of the Istanbul Pride march and other pride marches in the country; regrets that, subsequent to this statement, other regions have also banned LGBTI events; stresses that this is in gross violation of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as guaranteed in Articles 26, 33 and 34 of the Turkish Constitution, as well as Article 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); calls on the Turkish authorities to revoke the ban immediately and to restore the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly;

13.  Calls on the EU Delegation in Ankara to take the lead, together with Member State embassies, to provide coordinating support and, where necessary, public backing to human rights defenders, notably by monitoring and observing trials, requesting permission for prison visits and issuing statements addressing the Turkish authorities at all levels;

14.  Believes that supporting Turkey’s human rights defenders and civil society representatives (journalists, academics, artists, writers, etc.) is vital for the future of the country and the credibility of the EU; reiterates its call to the Commission to take into consideration the developments in Turkey during the review of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds, and to assess concrete options on how to increase support for Turkish civil society; underlines that no funds should go to projects managed directly by Turkish ministries involved in, or responsible for, the dismantling of the rule of law, such as the Ministry of Justice;

15.  Reiterates the importance of rebuilding a trustworthy, open and constructive political dialogue with Turkey, but believes that, as a prerequisite for such a dialogue to be fruitful, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms must be improved; recalls that Parliament’s Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) remains the key platform for such dialogue, including on human rights issues;

16.  Recalls its call for the formal suspension of accession negotiations with Turkey, if the constitutional reforms proposed by the Government and approved through a referendum are implemented unchanged, given that the new Constitution would not respect the Copenhagen criteria and would carry the understanding that Turkish lawmakers are no longer aiming at integration into the European Union;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of Turkey.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0450.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0423.

Last updated: 6 February 2018Legal notice