Motion for a resolution - B8-0082/2018Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the current human rights situation in Turkey

5.2.2018 - (2018/2527(RSP))

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

Charles Tannock, Branislav Škripek, Arne Gericke, Jana Žitňanská, Ruža Tomašić, Anders Primdahl Vistisen, Monica Macovei, Angel Dzhambazki, Jan Zahradil, Valdemar Tomaševski on behalf of the ECR Group

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

Procedure : 2018/2527(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Debates :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on the current human rights situation in Turkey


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Turkey, in particular those of 27 October 2016 on the situation of journalists in Turkey[1], 24 November 2016 on EU-Turkey relations[2] and 6 July 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Turkey[3],

–  having regard to the 2016 Commission report on Turkey,

–  having regard to the EU Delegation in Ankara statements of 14 September 2017 on the human rights situation in Turkey and 13 November 2017 on the human rights defenders’ situation in Turkey,

–  having regard to the statement following the EU-Turkey High Level Political Dialogue of 25 July 2017,

–  having regard to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), to which Turkey is a state party,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

–  having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Turkey is an important partner of the EU; whereas respect for the rule of law, including the separation of powers, democracy, freedom of expression and media, freedom of association, religious freedom and the rights of minorities are at the core of international and domestic law;

B.  whereas on 18 January 2018 Turkey extended the state of emergency for the sixth time since the failed 2016 coup attempt; whereas during this state of emergency the rule of law in Turkey has been under constant pressure, with judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, travel bans and many other restrictive measures targeting anyone suspected of belonging to the Gülenist movement and civil society actors, including journalists, lawyers, academics, writers and NGOs, despite a lack of evidence of criminal wrong-doing or compelling grounds for custody; whereas public officials continue to be dismissed or suspended by decree without due process, with more than 110 000 dismissed since July 2016; whereas over 500 lawyers have been jailed pending trial, and over 1 000 prosecuted;

C.  whereas the crackdown also extended to the pro-Kurdish opposition party HDP, with co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ and other MPs arrested and placed in pre-trial detention since November 2016, while earlier in 2016 148 MPs from the HDP and other opposition parties were stripped of parliamentary immunity; whereas on 11 January 2018 Leyla Zana, the 2005 European Parliament Sakharov Prize laureate, was stripped of her status as an MP on dubious grounds; whereas in the southeast, the government took control in 89 municipalities won by the HDP’s sister party in the region, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), and suspended their democratically elected co-mayors under suspicion of terrorism offenses, with at least 70 jailed pending trial, thus violating the rights to political association and participation and freedom of expression;

D.  whereas limitations to freedom of expression and the intimidation of journalists and media outlets within and outside Turkey, in the form of arrests, hearings, prosecutions, censorship cases and layoffs, has increased; whereas reportedly over 150 journalists have been imprisoned; whereas foreign journalists have also been detained, notably Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish journalist who was imprisoned on charges of espionage in February 2017 and is still in jail; whereas in 2017 several major politically motivated trials of journalists began despite the lack of credible evidence to substantiate the charges;

E.  whereas human rights defenders were also targeted in 2017; whereas in June 2017, Taner Kiliç, the president of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained for alleged Gülenist links; whereas Kiliç was ordered to be released on bail by an Istanbul court on 31 January 2018, but remains in detention as the prosecutor appealed against the court’s decision; whereas in July 2017 ten other human rights defenders, including one German and one Swedish national, were detained during a meeting in Istanbul, accused of aiding unnamed terrorist organisations, and released on bail on 25 October; whereas in November 2017 Osman Kavala, a businessman and well-known figure in civil society was jailed without clear accusations;

F.  whereas in January 2018 over 300 people, including journalists, who expressed criticism on social media of the Turkish Government’s military intervention Operation Olive Branch in the northwest-Syrian enclave of Afrin were detained on charges of ‘inciting hatred, insulting state officials, supporting terrorism and threatening the unity of the state’;

G.  whereas despite the fact that the Turkish Constitution provides for the freedom of belief, worship, and the private dissemination of religious ideas, and prohibits discrimination on religious grounds, religious minorities still face hate crimes and verbal and physical attacks, stigmatisation and social pressure at school, discrimination owing to the religion field on identity cards and problems regarding the ability to legally establish a place of worship; whereas civil society has reported unprecedented levels of persecution and suppression of Christians, as hard-line Islamist extremists fled from Syria and Iraq to Turkey, bringing a sharp rise in violence and aggression towards Christians; whereas Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor in Turkey for the past 23 years, was detained in October 2016 and has been falsely charged with membership in an armed terrorist organisation without evidence and is still imprisoned;

H.  whereas cases of torture and ill-treatment in police custody were widely reported in 2017, especially by individuals detained under the anti-terror law;

I.  whereas Turkey continues to host the largest number of refugees in the world; whereas there remain high rates of child labour and large numbers of child refugees and asylum seekers not attending school; whereas according to recent reports, nearly half a million Syrian refugee children are currently enrolled in school, but at least 380 000 remain out of school;

1.  Is strongly concerned at the disproportionate measures undertaken under the state of emergency after the failed coup, which has not yet been lifted, including the huge number of arrests, dismissals, the confiscation of property, and the intensified crackdown on media freedom, including the disproportionate banning of media sites and social media;

2.  Recalls that the rule of law, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association and diverse and independent media are essential elements of a democratic society and that strong and independent NGOs are central elements of any democratic system; stresses that Turkey must aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices in accordance with the human rights obligations pursuant to the international human rights conventions to which it is a party;

3.  Strongly condemns the arrests of EU citizens, journalists, academics and human rights defenders for unjustified reasons in Turkey and calls for the immediate release of Deniz Yücel, Taner Kiliç, Osman Kavala and all others on the basis of the principle of presumption of innocence and the application of pre-trial detention in line with the European Convention on Human Rights; calls on the Turkish Government to reverse its shutdowns of media outlets and to ensure that the press and other media, and all individuals, are able to comment on public issues and to inform public opinion without censorship or constraint;

4.  Denounces the continued detention of HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ and other MPs belonging to the opposition, and of the Kurdish municipal mayors, and calls for their immediate release pending their trial; condemns the recent decision to strip Leyla Zana of her status as an MP, as well as previous similar decisions on five fellow HDP MPs; reiterates its solidarity with legitimately elected parliamentarians subjected to detention and intimidation;

5.  Expresses its deep concern at the arrests in Turkey of critical voices during the worrying military intervention Operation Olive Branch in Afrin; recalls that Turkey’s silencing of voices who speak out against the military intervention is in violation of its own laws and obligations under international human rights law;

6.  Calls on the Turkish Government to respect and implement Turkey’s comprehensive legislation protecting religious freedom and to fully comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and the recommendations of the Venice Commission on freedom of religion or belief, to facilitate the return of appropriated church-owned properties and to ensure the observance of due process in all cases that impact the right to freedom of religion or belief; demands that the government enter into a dialogue with the religious minorities to overcome prejudice and to solve problems in line with international rights obligations; urges the government to release pastor Andrew Brunson and to allow him to return home; calls on the Turkish authorities to combat seriously all manifestations of anti-Semitism in society;

7.  Is alarmed at reported cases of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in detention and urges the Turkish authorities to live up to their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights;

8.  Encourages the Turkish Government to grant work permits and access to healthcare to all Syrian refugees, and to provide access to education for Syrian refugee children;

9.  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 and requesting permission for prison visits;

10.  Calls on the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU to systematically raise the issue of Christians and other religious minorities as an integral part of their dialogue with Turkey; encourages the EU Delegation in Ankara to systematically implement the EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, by supporting local churches and civil society, by making public statements and by visiting imprisoned members of religious minorities;

11.  Insists that supporting Turkey’s human rights defenders and civil society representatives is vital for the future of the country; reiterates its call for the Commission to assess concrete options on how to increase support for Turkish civil society;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the European External Action Service, the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Turkey.

Last updated: 6 February 2018
Legal notice - Privacy policy