Joint Letter to Ms. Mogherini and Mr. Tusk regarding extension of Turkey’s state of emergency in a context of grave human rights violations


Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission
Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
cc: Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and EU ambassadors to Turkey

20 April 2016

Object: Extension of Turkey’s state of emergency in a context of grave human rights violations

Dear HR/VP Federica Mogherini,
Dear President Donald Tusk,

EuroMed Rights, European Federation of Journalists, Front Line Defenders, Index on Censorship and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) are deeply concerned by the Turkish government’s decision to extend the state of emergency in Turkey by a further three months. The decision has been approved by the Turkish parliament and published in the Official Gazette.

The far-reaching discretionary powers exercised by the Turkish authorities during the nine months of the state of emergency have deeply undermined the rule of law and human rights safeguards.

We support the position of the Venice commission of December 2016, which stated that “the Government interpreted its extraordinary powers too extensively and took measures that went beyond what is permitted by the Turkish Constitution and by international law.” We also note the preliminary findings and conclusions of the OSCE-ODIHR International Observation Mission stating that “under the state of emergency (…), fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed (…). One side’s dominance in the coverage and restrictions on the media reduced voters’ access to a plurality of views”.

In view of the dangers arising from the extension of the state of emergency and the worrying human rights situation in Turkey (see appendix), the signatory organisations call on you to: 

  1. Urge the Government of Turkey to reverse its decision to renew the state of emergency and to revoke measures incompatible with Turkey’s human rights obligations;
  2. Urge the Turkish authorities to release from custody without delay, unconditionally drop politically-motivated charges and proceedings, and quash sentences against the hundreds of journalists, elected members of parliament and mayors of South Eastern municipalities, human rights defenders, trade unionists, and intellectuals unjustly jailed or facing judicial harassment for their legitimate human rights work, writing, non-violent political association or convictions;
  3. Monitor closely the safety of human rights defenders and encourage the EU Delegation and the EU Member State Embassies in Turkey to proactively implement the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. In particular, the EU Missions should as often as possible visit political prisoners in jail and attend the trials of human rights defenders, including journalists and trade unionists. The EU Delegation and the EU Member State Embassies in Turkey should also press Turkish authorities to ensure that human rights organisations and professional bodies of relevant experts such as medical chambers, bar associations and lawyers associations are also given access to all places of detention and court rooms.

We look forward to hearing from you about steps that the European Union will take to implement these recommendations, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and the EU’s Human Rights Action Plan adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015.

Yours sincerely,

Michel Tubiana – EuroMed Rights President

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård – European Federation of Journalists President

Andrew Anderson – Front Line Defenders Executive Director

Hugh Williamson – Human Rights Watch Executive Director, Europe & Central Asia

Jodie Ginsberg – Index on Censorship Chief Executive

Gerald Staberock – World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) Secretary General