Letter to the Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the human rights situation in Turkey


Ahead of the Spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), PEN International calls on PACE members to vote in favour of reopening the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey.

13 April 2017

Dear Assembly Member,

PEN International expresses its deep concerns about the continuous deterioration of human rights in Turkey and encourages you to vote in favour of the Monitoring Committee and its Turkey co-Rapporteurs’ calls to reopen the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey.

In January 2017, PEN International and other human rights groups supported the requests for the Parliamentary Assembly to hold an urgent debate on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey. The debate did not take place and the human rights situation in the country has only deteriorated since then.

PEN International recognises that the Turkish authorities have the right and responsibility to investigate the violent events of the July 2016 coup attempt and to bring all those responsible to justice. However the authorities are abusing the state of emergency to severely restrict the right to freedom of expression and media freedom, to stifle criticism and limit the diversity of views, perspectives and opinions available in the public sphere.

Over 180 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree.  There are now at least 141 writers, journalists and media workers in prison, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.  In May 2016, 154 parliamentarians were stripped of their immunity in a move criticised by the Venice Commission as not in line with Council of Europe standards. Twelve parliamentarians of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party remain in pre-trial detention on terrorism charges. Scores of democratically elected mayors in the southeast have been similarly jailed or replaced with government-appointed trustees, depriving millions of voters of their elected representatives in parliament and in local government.

The Turkish authorities must abide by goals and principles of the Council of Europe and fulfil their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. As a member of the Parliamentary Assembly, I urge you to play a key role as a guardian of human rights.

By reopening the full monitoring procedure, the Parliamentary Assembly will show its commitment to a constructive dialogue with Turkey and work to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

We thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax  +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org