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Letters from MEDEL to European Commission and European Parliament about situation in Turkey

MEDEL

MEDEL has sent on may 18th two letters to the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament, about the situation in Turkey and the recent events regarding the suspension of the President of the Turkish Judicial Syndicate, Ms. Ayse Pehlivan.

TO MS. URSULA VON DER LEYEN
PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

May 18th, 2020.

In CC to

Ms. Vera Jourova
Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency

Mr. Didier Reynders
European Commissioner for Justice

Mr. Olivér Várhelyi
European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement

Your Excellency,

We address you once again regarding the tragic situation of the disrespect for Rule of Law, independence of the Judiciary and basic fundamental rights in Turkey.

The situation is not recent and MEDEL had already been denouncing it long before the attempted Coup d’État of July 16th, 2016 – see the July 2012 report of the audit carried out by MEDEL to the Turkish judiciary (available at https://www.medelnet.eu/images/Monetti_Strecker_Report_on_a_visit_in_Turkey_2 0120704.pdf).

After that event, however, the situation suffered a dramatic deterioration, as the European Parliament noticed in its resolution of 13 March 2019 on the 2018 Commission Report on Turkey (2018/2150(INI)):

  • the prolonged state of emergency has led to an erosion of the rule of law and to the deterioration of human rights in Turkey;
  • over 150 000 people were taken into custody in the post-coup crackdown and 78 000 have been arrested on the basis of terrorism charges, while more than 50 000 people remain in jail, in most cases without conclusive evidence;
  • the Turkish government undertook actions against Turkish citizens in third countries, including harassment and kidnappings and covert surveillance, as well as the practice of hotlines through which people are encouraged to report other citizens to the government;
  • more than 152 000 civil servants - including teachers, doctors, (peace) academics, lawyers, judges and prosecutors - have been dismissed;
  • the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is being exploited by the Turkish intelligence agency for purposes of pursuing opposition leaders from the Gülen movement or any other opponents;
  • the increased executive surveillance and political pressure are affecting the work of judges and prosecutors;
  • more than 4 000 judges and prosecutors were dismissed, which is a threat to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary;
  • the arrest of over 570 lawyers is an obstacle to the right of defence and amounts to a breach of the right to a fair trial;
  • human rights lawyers were detained and have been judicially harassed;
  • more than 160 media outlets have been closed, journalists and media workers have been arrested in high numbers, and more than 114 000 websites have been

The persecution and harassment of judges, prosecutors and lawyers has reached unprecedented numbers. Magistrates were arrested in high numbers, some of them with their children, and a significant number of them died or are severely sick. A living symbol of that persecution is Murat Arslan, the president of YARSAV (MEDEL’s member association, whose unlawful administrative disbandment we do not recognize) – awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe with the 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize - sentenced in January 2019 to 10 years of imprisonment after a trial that hasn’t met any basic requirements of a due process of law.

Despite all international pressure, the Turkish authorities do not cease to continue their efforts to silence any free voices in Turkish society. The most recent case, to which we would like to draw your attention, is that of Ms. Ayse Sarisu Pehlivan, the President of the Turkish Judicial Syndicate (Yargıçlar Sendikası). Ms. Pehlivan has been suspended for three months because she published messages on Twitter regretting the death of the musician Ibrahim Gökcak, a member of the music group Yorum. Mr. Gökcak and other members of the band, as well as some of their lawyers, were arrested and initiated a hunger strike. He died on May 7, after 323 days of hunger strike (another of his strike colleagues interrupted her strike, but also died). Following his death, Ms. Ayse Pehlivan published messages on Twitter regretting that outcome. As the music band is considered by the Turkish authorities of belonging to a terrorist organization, Ms. Ayse

Pehlivan was accused and suspended for 3 months, just because of those Twitter messages.

Considering the fact that the Turkish High Council for Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) is completely under control of the Executive and is therefore unable to fulfil its obligation of preserving the independence of the Judiciary (as the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary has clearly stated in its 8 December 2016 resolution, by which it unanimously suspended the observer status of HSYK), we are affraid that the suspension of Ms. Ayse Pehlivan may not be the only sanction. In summer, the HSYK will decide  about  transfers  of  judges  to  other  cities   and  courts,  so  we  fear  that      Ms. Pehlivan could be sent to a city far away from her family, as a way of punishment.

We address you, Madam President, because the European Union must  take these facts in consideration when dealing with the Turkish authorities, either in cooperation negotiations, or in the accession procedure. The EU must remain fully committed to the defence and promotion of the Rule of Law in all its actions – be it internally or externally. The Union is based on principles such as the respect for the Rule of Law, fundamental rights and the independence of the Judiciary, and they must be protected and respected at all times.

We respectfully urge you and the European Commission to make all efforts so that the situation of Ms. Pehlivan is given due attention when dealing with Turkish authorities.

We are sure that you will take the facts that we now bring to your attention in full consideration.

Yours Sincerely,

Filipe MARQUES
(President of MEDEL – Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EC Transparency Registry nr. 981119221130-18 

 

----------------------

 

TO MR. DAVID SASSOLI
PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

May 18th, 2020.

Your Excellency,

We address you regarding the tragic situation of the disrespect for Rule of Law, independence of the Judiciary and basic fundamental rights in Turkey.

The situation is not recent and MEDEL had already been denouncing it long before the attempted Coup d’État of July 16th, 2016 – see the July 2012 report of the audit carried out by MEDEL to the Turkish judiciary (available at https://www.medelnet.eu/images/Monetti_Strecker_Report_on_a_visit_in_Turkey_2 0120704.pdf).

After that event, however, the situation suffered a dramatic deterioration, as the European Parliament noticed in its resolution of 13 March 2019 on the 2018 Commission Report on Turkey (2018/2150(INI)):

  • the prolonged state of emergency has led to an erosion of the rule of law and to the deterioration of human rights in Turkey;
  • over 150 000 people were taken into custody in the post-coup crackdown and 78 000 have been arrested on the basis of terrorism charges, while more than 50 000 people remain in jail, in most cases without conclusive evidence;
  • the Turkish government undertook actions against Turkish citizens in third countries, including harassment and kidnappings and covert surveillance, as well as the practice of hotlines through which people are encouraged to report other citizens to the government;
  • more than 152 000 civil servants - including teachers, doctors, (peace) academics, lawyers, judges and prosecutors - have been dismissed;
  • the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is being exploited by the Turkish intelligence agency for purposes of pursuing opposition leaders from the Gülen movement or any other opponents;
  • the increased executive surveillance and political pressure are affecting the work of judges and prosecutors;
  • more than 4 000 judges and prosecutors were dismissed, which is a threat to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary;
  • the arrest of over 570 lawyers is an obstacle to the right of defence and amounts to a breach of the right to a fair trial;
  • human rights lawyers were detained and have been judicially harassed;
  • more than 160 media outlets have been closed, journalists and media workers have been arrested in high numbers, and more than 114 000 websites have been

The persecution and harassment of judges, prosecutors and lawyers has reached unprecedented numbers. Magistrates were arrested in high numbers, some of them with their children, and a significant number of them died or are severely sick. A living symbol of that persecution is Murat Arslan, the president of YARSAV (MEDEL’s member association, whose unlawful administrative disbandment we do not recognize) – awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe with the 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize - sentenced in January 2019 to 10 years of imprisonment after a trial that hasn’t met any basic requirements of a due process of law.

Despite all international pressure, the Turkish authorities do not cease to continue their efforts to silence any free voices in Turkish society. The most recent case, to which we would like to draw your attention, is that of Ms. Ayse Sarisu Pehlivan, the President of the Turkish Judicial Syndicate (Yargıçlar Sendikası). Ms. Pehlivan has been suspended for three months because she published messages on Twitter regretting the death of the musician Ibrahim Gökcak, a member of the music group Yorum. Mr. Gökcak and other members of the band, as well as some of their lawyers, were arrested and initiated a hunger strike. He died on May 7, after 323 days of hunger strike (another of his strike colleagues interrupted her strike, but also died). Following his death, Ms. Ayse Pehlivan published messages on Twitter regretting that outcome. As the music band is considered by the Turkish authorities of belonging to a terrorist organization, Ms. Ayse Pehlivan was accused and suspended for 3 months, just because of those Twitter messages.

Considering the fact that the Turkish High Council for Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) is completely under control of the Executive and is therefore unable to fulfil its obligation of preserving the independence of the Judiciary (as the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary has clearly stated in its 8 December 2016 resolution, by which it unanimously suspended the observer status of HSYK), we are affraid that the suspension of Ms. Ayse Pehlivan may not be the only sanction. In summer, the HSYK will decide  about  transfers  of  judges  to  other  cities   and  courts,  so  we  fear  that      Ms. Pehlivan could be sent to a city far away from her family, as a way of punishment.

We address you, Mister President, because the European Union must take these facts in consideration when dealing with the Turkish authorities, either in cooperation negotiations, or in the accession procedure. The EU must remain fully committed to the defence and promotion of the Rule of Law in all its actions – be it internally or externally. The Union is based on principles such as the respect for the Rule of Law, fundamental rights and the independence of the Judiciary, and they must be protected and respected at all times.

We respectfully urge you and the European Parliament to make all efforts so that the situation of Ms. Pehlivan is given due attention when dealing with Turkish authorities.

We are sure that you will take the facts that we now bring to your attention in full consideration.

Yours Sincerely,

Filipe MARQUES
(President of MEDEL – Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EC Transparency Registry nr. 981119221130-18

 

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