The EU notes with great concern the increasing number of detentions and arrests of human rights defenders in Turkey. On 5 July 2017 ten human rights defenders, including the Director of Amnesty International in Turkey İdil Eser, were detained while taking part in a workshop on information management.
On 17 July the ten human rights defenders were taken to the Çağlayan Judicial Palace where the Prosecution office questioned them. On 18 July the Peace Penal Judge finalised the hearing of the ten human rights defenders and ruled for the release of Şeyhmuz Özbekli, Nalan Erkem, İlknur Üstün and Nejat Taştan with judicial control decision and a travel ban abroad. The other six human rights defenders, İdil Eser, Veli Acu, Günal Kurşun, Özlem Dalkıran, Peter Steudtner and Ali Garawi were arrested. Two of the persons arrested hold citizenship of EU Member States.
The EU expresses its serious concern over these arrests, one month after the detention of the Chair of Amnesty International in Turkey, Taner Kiliç. It echoes the concerns expressed by Nils Muižnieks, Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, that “the use of criminal proceedings against human rights defenders for conduct that should be protected under the European Convention on Human Rights is unfortunately an increasingly frequent phenomenon in Turkey”.
The EU calls on the Turkish authorities to respect the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the principle of presumption of innocence.
All human rights defenders facing arrest should be secured the right to a fair trial. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association are fundamental pillars of a democratic society, and strong and independent NGOs are central elements of any democratic system.
The EU stresses the value of upholding mutual dialogue and cooperation and invites Turkey to reaffirm its commitment to the common Council of Europe values and principles of the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia align themselves with this statement.