The EU should engage in close dialogue with Turkey on crucial issues such as the judiciary and fundamental rights.

*Article from our member organisation Solidar
 
While the police continued to violently crackdown on peaceful demonstrations on Taksim Square and in Gezi Park, a fourth person died in the protests and over 50 lawyers have been arrested while protesting in an Istanbul courthouse. In addition, Turkish citizens, human rights defenders, trade unions and civil society organisations continue to be under attack by the Turkish government.
 
Yesterday, the European Parliament discussed the current situation in Turkey in the plenary debate in Strasbourg and formulated the following demands to end the violence, including:
 
  • The Turkish authorities must guarantee and respect the rights of all citizens to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and peaceful protest; immediately release all peaceful protestors taken into custody and currently detained; allow all detainees unrestricted access to lawyers of their choice; provide information on the exact numbers of detainees and injured;
  • The role of a system of checks and balances is crucial in the governance of a modern democratic state, which should be reflected in the ongoing constitutional process, and which must be based on the principle of separation of powers, with balance between the executive, legislative and judicial functions, on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms – in particular freedom of expression and freedom of the press – and on a participatory political culture that truly reflects the plurality of a democratic society; in itself, the organisation of peaceful and legitimate protests testifies to the vibrancy of Turkish civil society; continuing efforts are important to Turkey to further improve its democratic institutions, the rule of law and the observance of fundamental freedoms;
  • Freedom of expression and media pluralism are at the heart of European values and a truly democratic, free and pluralist society requires true freedom of expression; freedom of expression is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, to those that offend, shock or disturb the state or any section of the population.
SOLIDAR, İnsan Hakları Derneği (İHD), Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) welcome these demands as they coincide with the joint draft resolution issued last week, supported by the EPAN working group of CONCORD and DVV International.
 
In light of these resolutions, we urge the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to engage in close dialogue with Turkey on crucial issues such as the judiciary and fundamental rights, especially through chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) as part of the Accession Partnership as they provide an important policy tool to put pressure on the Turkish government to ensure that all national legislation related to human rights and fundamental freedoms is in line with the essential values of the EU and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).
 
*Text from Solidar – original article appeared here