The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) co-rapporteurs for Turkey, John Howell and Boriss Cilevičs, expressed their reaction after the Turkish high court of appeals upheld court rulings and prison sentences for prominent opposition figure Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the chair of main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul branch.
“This decision is another blow to democracy before the elections scheduled in 2023. We urge the Turkish authorities to put an end to these undemocratic practices,” they said.
“We are dismayed by the decision of the Court of Cassation of Turkey, which upheld most of the sentences against Canan Kaftancıoğlu, Head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) provincial branch of Istanbul, and convicted her to nearly 5 years in prison or to a political ban. This punishment, based on old tweets, for, i.a, allegedly ‘insulting the President’, illustrates yet another case of judicial harassment against members of the opposition – and in this case, against a prominent female politician; it is yet another blow to Turkey’s democracy and vibrant political scene, which is all the more worrying in the run-up to general elections scheduled for 2023.
“Canan Kaftancıoğlu’s place is in the political arena, not in prison. We urge the Turkish authorities to put an end to these undemocratic practices. It is urgent to revise those controversial provisions of the Penal Code that are contrary to European standards – so say the Venice Commission and the European Court of Human Rights – and that lead to abusive judicial procedures aimed at silencing critical voices and dissenting opinions, which are indispensable components of a vibrant civil society. This poses a serious danger to democracy in Turkey.”
Charges against Kaftancıoğlu are over a number of tweets published between 2012 and 2017.
The local court had sentenced Kaftancıoğlu to a total of nine years, eight months and 20 days in prison over charges of making propaganda for a terrorist group, insulting a public official, insulting the president, publicly humiliating the Republic of Turkey, and inciting people to hatred and enmity.
The Court of Cassation on 12 May upheld three of the rulings and prison sentences, amounting to four years, 11 months and 20 days.