Troubled by recent developments in Turkey, OSCE PA human rights leaders stress importance of respect for democratic principles

COPENHAGEN, 13 April 2021 – Concerned by moves to legally dissolve the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights and democracy committee said today that banning one of the country’s largest political parties would be a mistake and could further undermine democratic principles in Turkey. The recent arrest of HDP parliamentarian Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, following the stripping of his parliamentary immunity, is only the latest in long string of elected officials whose mandates have been removed, the OSCE PA members said.

The committee leaders acknowledged that Turkey has in the past and continues today to face grave security concerns including terrorism and noted Turkey’s ongoing efforts in the international response to the refugee crisis, hosting more than 3.6 million Syrians displaced by the Syrian civil war. They stressed however that its response to challenges requires consolidation of democratic norms and full respect for human rights.

“The combination of the effort to ban the People’s Democratic Party and the repeated imprisonment of politicians is having the effect of denying millions of Turkish citizens their chosen representation,” said Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), Chair of the OSCE PA’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. “Turkey should adhere to its international commitments, which require that duly elected officials must be provided with the protection to do their jobs to the end of their mandates. Some removals have taken place on flimsy evidence, and in the case of Mr. Gergerlioğlu for tweeting a news article.”

The Vice-Chair of the committee, Michael Georg Link (Germany), noted that the recent arrests and the moves to ban the HDP come against a backdrop of other concerning developments for human rights and rule of law in Turkey. “From Ankara’s recent decision to annul its ratification of the legally binding Istanbul Convention on violence against women to its ongoing imprisonment of journalists, and now these moves to suppress the HDP, the human rights situation in Turkey is increasingly becoming a matter of international concern,” he said. “We are closely watching the legal proceedings against politicians such as Mr. Gergerlioğlu, as well as several journalists who are appearing in court during the next few weeks.”

Kari Henriksen (Norway), who serves as OSCE PA Vice-President and Rapporteur of the human rights committee said: “Turkey has a history of a vibrant multi-party system but the recent actions by the government undermine this pluralistic tradition. Parliamentary democracy is predicated on the respect for different policy approaches, opinions and views, and this cannot be a reason for removal from parliament. Closure of a political party is a drastic step and must only be taken with great caution and with respect for the highest principles of due process and freedom of expression.”

The OSCE PA has spoken out on previous occasions regarding the rule of law in Turkey. In 2018, following a wave of detentions in Turkey, the leaders of the human rights committee expressed concern that authorities were targeting political opponents in advance of local elections, noting that in the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document all participating States, including Turkey, agreed to “ensure that candidates who obtain the necessary number of votes required by law are duly installed in office and are permitted to remain in office until their term expires or is otherwise brought to an end in a manner that is regulated by law in conformity with democratic parliamentary and constitutional procedures.”

Other statements in recent years have expressed concerns over the application of measures imposed under the state of emergency imposed following the attempted coup in July 2016, including the arrests of parliamentarians, the dismissals of thousands of public servants from their jobs and a lack of clear legal procedures to safeguard individual rights.

The OSCE PA was among the first international organizations to visit Turkey following the failed 2016 coup and denounced the attempted seizure of power in the strongest terms.



Нэт Пэрри

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