Turkey’s rule of law has not significantly improved, falls short of international standards, and impedes its chance of obtaining European Union membership, declared Nacho Sánchez Amor, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Turkey, on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) Academy, Istanbul, Turkey, Amor highlighted legal challenges faced by dissident journalists in the country. In particular he cited the trial of Mezopotamya agency editor Abdurrahman Gök, released on Tuesday under judicial supervision after seven months in detention, as well as the on-going cases against imprisoned Kurdish journalists Sedat Yılmaz and Dicle Müftüoğlu.
“Turkey must change its ways if it wants to join the European Union,” said Amor, also pointing to instances of harassment against the LGBTI+ community in the country, along with other examples of rights violations including impediments faced by a group of demonstrators in Istanbul known as the Saturday Mothers.
The Turkish police have been preventing the Saturday Mothers from exercising their right to protest for some time, despite an earlier ruling by the Constitutional Court that the ban on the group’s peaceful sit-ins, to demand justice for disappeared relatives, was a violation of their rights.
Earlier in the week the rapporteur attended one of the Saturday Mothers’ vigils, expressing support for the group and criticising Turkey for its failure to implement Constitutional Court decisions.
Amor pointed to the burgeoning crisis in Turkey’s legal system, erupting in November when the Cassation Court challenged a ruling by the Constitutional Court (AYM) on the detention of an opposition MP, leading to a criminal complaint against AYM members.
“Considering the situation where the Court of Cassation can complain about Constitutional Court members, we see that the rule of law falls short of international standards here,” he stated.