Council of Europe: Human rights environment deteriorated in Turkey

Council of Europe: Human rights environment deteriorated in Turkey
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The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner has expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights environment in Turkey, specifically citing the detention and arrest of Kurdish politicians, artists, lawyers, and journalists.

The Turkish authorities should put an end to the hostile environment affecting human rights defenders, journalists, NGOs and lawyers and stop silencing them by means of administrative and judicial action, the Council of Europe.

In a written statement, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic expressed concern about the detention and arrest operations against Kurdish politicians, artists, lawyers, and journalists based in Turkey.

The statement noted that the pressure on these important actors of the democratic society has increased during the election period, and the human rights environment, particularly the freedom of expression, organization, and assembly, has deteriorated further.

“The latest mass raids and the arrests of more than 120 persons across Turkey, including journalists, lawyers, opposition politicians, and artists, reportedly on grounds of being members of a terrorist organization, raise serious concerns in this regard. There have so far been allegations of violations of procedural guarantees and of police violence in this context, while six journalists and 25 lawyers from this group reportedly remain in pre-trial detention, further expanding the list of detained journalists in Turkey,” the statement said.

The fact that the authorities did not protect the peaceful assembly rights of the Saturday Mothers/Humanity who seek the truth about their missing relatives despite two decisions of the Constitutional Court in this regard and the criminal prosecution against group members who exercised this right is another example of the risks inherent in an environment where human rights are not effectively protected, according to the statement.

The statement pointed out that social media platforms are being blocked, journalists and media organizations are constantly being sued, and the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) is imposing heavy fines for critical news.
The restrictions on access to information have created an even more discouraging effect on journalists and critical voices, according to the statement.

“The public use of hateful rhetoric against minorities, LGBTI people and migrants, including by the highest ranking public officials, has reached alarming levels and has amplified the existing polarisation in society, in an environment which has already been marked by increasing violence and crimes motivated by hatred against members of these groups,” the statement said.