The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, following a meeting that took place between 7-9 June 2021 focusing on human rights concerns, asked Turkey to “immediately” change the relevant legislation in line with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in order to make it clear that ‘freedom of expression’ does not constitute a crime.
Whilst noting the recent adoption of the new Human Rights Action Plan in Turkey, which has heightened debates in Turkey regarding the sincerity of the government, the Ministers’ Deputies encouraged the Turkish authorities “to strengthen freedom of expression and assembly in general.”
Deputies also called upon the Turkish authorities “to consider more extensive legislative solutions without further delay” and “to submit more case-law samples of domestic courts.”
It was noted, furthermore, that legislative amendments adopted by Turkey so far do not remedy the fundamental problems identified by the ECHR and the developments in case-law presented in recent examples of Turkish domestic courts judgments do not address this problem adequately.
The Secretariat of the Committee stated that Turkish authorities should be encouraged to adopt concrete measures addressing the ECHR’s findings of violations of freedom of expression in the “Işıkırık group” case against Turkey, “as well as implementing the envisaged strengthening of the freedom of expression and assembly in general.”
Joint examination by the Committee regarding a group case against Turkey found that “criminal sanctions” were “imposed on the applicants on account of the exercise of their right to freedom of expression or assembly.”
The Committee of Ministers decided to continue the evaluation of these cases at the meeting regarding the implementation of the judgments of the ECHR, to be held by March 2022 at latest.
Before this final appeal, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had warned Turkey that they would launch a “violation procedure” against Turkey for Osman Kavala, who still remains jailed despite the ECHR’s judgment to release him.