Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland has stressed the importance of “justice starting to work” in Turkey, adding that he is concerned by the current situation regarding fundamental rights in the country.
Speaking to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) members on June 26, Jagland said that he called Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag “immediately” after the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, Taner Kilic was arrested for “being a member of a terrorist group”. He said he made the call “to remind him that the Council of Europe always keeps a particularly close eye on the rights and treatment of human rights defenders”.
Jagland also commented on a commission formed to investigate the state of emergency procedures, saying that “time had been saved for all those imprisoned or dismissed on suspicion of involvement in the attempted coup.”
The formation of the commission was seen as a bid to ease criticism from European institutions, as decrees issued under state of emergency rules are closed to appeal and thus closed to any domestic remedies.
During his speech, Jagland said “the many instruments that the Council has available needed to be applied”.
He also said he hoped the report on the Committee for the Prevention of Torture’s visit from 2016 would be made public soon, insisting that the organisation must continue to work with the Turkish authorities on judicial reforms, “where much had been achieved.”
When asked whether reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey would be a red line for the Council of Europe, Jagland asserted that, along with derogations from other rights such as the right to life and the prohibition of torture, the death penalty could have no place in Europe.
Jagland also called for the release of two jailed Turkish educators who have been on a hunger strike for over 110 days. He urged the Turkish authorities to release Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca, reported to be in a critical condition, due to the length of the period they have been on a hunger strike.
Jagland said he would raise the case with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. “I will call Prime Minister Yildirim and ask for their release”, he said.