Decisions and actions taken by the Turkish authorities against municipalities with mayors from opposition parties remain of deep concern, in particular when they appear to be politically motivated. This is notably the case of the recent suspension of five more mayors in the south-east of the country and their replacement with trustees. The total number of dismissed mayors in the south-east of Turkey since August 2019 reached 45. In addition, hundreds of local politicians and elected office holders and thousands of members of the HDP have been detained on terrorism-related charges since the local elections in March 2019, and investigations have been launched against other mayors.
As previously stated, while the Turkish government has a legitimate right to fight terrorism, it is also responsible for ensuring this is done in accordance with the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, enshrined in its Constitution and Turkey’s international commitments. It should not be done for political reasons, applying broad anti-terror or criminal legislation.
These measures, along with the excessive use of legal proceedings against local elected representatives, exemplified by the launch of criminal investigations against the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara in mid-April, seriously undermine the proper functioning of local democracy. Turkey should repeal measures inhibiting the functioning of local democracy, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and with Turkey's commitment to the European Charter of Local Self-Government.