Council of Europe : Turkey & Death Penalty


The possible reinstatement of the death penalty despite Turkey’s clear international undertakings to the contrary!

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The coming days will be crucial for the future of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Turkey.

Strasbourg 20/07/2016 – I condemn in the strongest possible terms the contemptible attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government in Turkey. I rejoice in the fact that the Turkish people unambiguously foiled this attempt, and that all democratic political currents and leaders stood united against it.

There is no doubt that the perpetrators of this attempted coup, who have caused the loss of many lives and injuries, must now face the full force of the law. However, the authorities must bear in mind that there is no justice without human rights and the rule of law. An independent judiciary is the ultimate guarantee that these principles will be upheld. In this context, I join many international bodies in expressing my profound concern about the fact that nearly one fifth of all the members of Turkey’s judiciary have been arrested or suspended so far for suspected involvement in the coup attempt. The staggering number of civil servants who have been arrested or dismissed in such a short period of time following the attempted coup also raise serious questions regarding equity and due process.

I am also alarmed by images showing torture and ill treatment being inflicted on suspected perpetrators, as well as signs of torture on persons taken into custody, which were published in various media.

While I am unable to determine the veracity of such allegations, I must stress that there can be no exception to the prohibition of torture, and this will be the ultimate test of Turkey’s zero-tolerance policy. While freedom of assembly is a democratic right, I am deeply disturbed by reports of mob violence, as well as hate speech and hate crimes against religious minorities and refugees. The authorities should condemn explicitly and do their utmost to stop any such tendency. I am also very worried by allusions to the possible reinstatement of the death penalty despite Turkey’s clear international undertakings to the contrary.

These events proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the vital importance of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of media, including social media, for any democratic society. I would like to recall the very serious concerns I have expressed on these issues with respect to Turkey, and hope that the Turkish leaders will take resolute measures to implement the recommendations of my Office. Unfortunately, I regret to note that journalists were once more victims of violence, at the hands of coup plotters, as well as of citizens resisting them, and that access to several news media on the internet were blocked once more.

I hope that Turkey will swiftly heal the damage and rifts caused by this shocking event. I will be closely monitoring the situation in the coming days, which will be crucial for the future of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Turkey.

Nils Muižnieks
Commissioner for Human Rights

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Turkey is bound by all the commitments that derive from the European Convention on Human Rights

In the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey, I call on the Turkish government to abide by the constitutional order. The best response to an attempt to destabilise democracy is to respect democratic institutions and the rule of law. Furthermore, as a member state of the Council of Europe, Turkey is bound by all the commitments that derive from the European Convention on Human Rights and its additional protocols. This includes the right to life, which has to be protected in all circumstances, and the right to a fair trial.

Au lendemain du coup d’état avorté en Turquie, j’appelle le gouvernement turc à se conformer à l’ordre constitutionnel. La meilleure réponse à une tentative de déstabilisation de la démocratie est de respecter les institutions démocratiques et l’état de droit. Par ailleurs, en tant qu’Etat membre du Conseil de l’Europe, la Turquie est tenue par tous les engagements dérivant de la Convention européenne des Droits de l’Homme et de ses Protocoles additionnels. Cela inclut le droit à la vie, qui doit être protégé en toutes circonstances, et le droit à un procès équitable.

Nach dem gescheiterten Putschversuch in der Türkei rufe ich die türkische Regierung auf, im Einklang mit der verfassungsmäßigen Ordnung zu handeln. Die beste Antwort auf einen Versuch, die Demokratie zu destabilisieren, ist die Achtung der demokratischen Institutionen und der Rechtsstaatlichkeit. Als Mitgliedsstaat des Europarates muss die Türkei überdies sämtliche Verpflichtungen einhalten, die sich aus der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention und deren Zusatzprotokollen ergeben. Dazu gehört das Recht auf Leben, das unter allen Umständen zu schützen ist, und das Recht auf ein faires Verfahren.


Marina Kaljurand
Chair of the Committee of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia


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Ensuring respect for the rule of law and basic rights is essential

I condemn the attempted coup in Turkey and deplore the loss of life in the events of the weekend. It is now very important to identify facts and bring to justice those responsible.

At the same time, to protect democratic institutions, it is equally important that the relevant legal procedures are carried out in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards that Turkey has subscribed to as a member of the Council of Europe, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the Strasbourg Court. In this context, the swift dismissal and arrest of thousands of judges, prosecutors, police officers and senior civil servants raises questions.

I am also worried about the announced discussion on the re-establishment of the death penalty. This would go against the country’s international commitments – as a member state of the Council of Europe, Turkey has signed and ratified Protocol No. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and its Protocol No. 13 banning the death penalty in all circumstances.

The Council of Europe stands ready to support the Turkish authorities, on the basis of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. [First Statement]

Je condamne la tentative de coup d’Etat en Turquie et déplore la perte de vies humaines lors des événements du week-end. Il importe maintenant d’établir les faits et de déférer les responsables à la justice.

Pour protéger les institutions démocratiques, il importe cependant tout autant de veiller à ce que les procédures judiciaires correspondantes soient menées conformément au principe de la prééminence du droit et aux normes des droits de l’homme – notamment celles qui émanent de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme et de la jurisprudence de la Cour de Strasbourg – que la Turquie s’est engagée à respecter en sa qualité de membre du Conseil de l’Europe. Dans ce contexte, la destitution hâtive et l’arrestation de milliers de juges, de procureurs, de policiers et de hauts fonctionnaires suscite des interrogations.

Je suis également préoccupé par l’annonce d’un débat sur le rétablissement de la peine de mort. Cela serait contraire aux engagements internationaux du pays : en tant que membre du Conseil de l’Europe, la Turquie a signé et ratifié le Protocole n° 6 à la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme et le Protocole n° 13, relatif à l’abolition de la peine de mort en toutes circonstances .

Le Conseil de l’Europe est prêt à apporter son aide aux autorités turques, sur la base des principes de la démocratie, des droits de l’homme et de la prééminence du droit.

Pedro Agramunt
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

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