“The possible ban of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is highly problematic”, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, informed WELT.
The Turkish government has been exerting pressure on the HDP for a considerable period of time. Thousands of HDP members have been jailed in Turkey’s prisons.
On Wednesday, Bekir Şahin, the Chief Prosecutor of Turkey’s Supreme Court requested the banning of the HDP by the Constitutional Court. The party undermines the “integrity of the state”, Şahin said.
The US government has criticised the move. Such a decision “would impermissibly violate the will of Turkish voters”, a State Department spokesperson in Washington said.
The recent statement by Buric, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, emphasizes the concern of the Council of Europe over the matter.
‘Banning of a party’ considered as ‘an extreme measure’
“The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has explicitly underlined the fundamental role that political parties play in a democracy. The Court considers the dissolution or banning of a party to be an extreme measure justified as a last resort only in very exceptional circumstances”, Pejcinovic Buric said.
These “exceptional circumstances” include, for example, a direct link between a political party and the criminal acts of a terrorist organisation, proven by an independent court, she said.
Criticism of ‘anti-terrorism measures’ cannot be a reason for ban
“The banning of a political party, in accordance with the case law of the ECHR, cannot be justified by the mere fact that this party is trying to publicly debate the situation of a part of the population. Nor can criticism of the way the government implements anti-terrorism measures be a reason for banning an opposition party,” the Secretary General of the Council of Europe said.
Political parties, Pejcinovic Buric further explained, benefit from the protection of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which protects the right to freedom of assembly. Buric stated that there were numerous judgements, including the ones against Turkey, in which the banning of a political party was considered a breach of Council of Europe human rights standards.
The ECHR, indeed, has ruled against Turkey in six out of seven cases it has decided upon regarding a ban on political parties.