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HomeHeadlineBelgian Foreign Minister Pledges Action on Turkey’s ECHR Non-Compliance

Belgian Foreign Minister Pledges Action on Turkey’s ECHR Non-Compliance

Ensar Nur – TR724

Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib responded to a parliamentary question from Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Els Van Hoof regarding Turkey’s non-compliance with ECHR decisions.The Minister emphasized that the monitoring of the implementation of decisions is primarily carried out by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, and that necessary sanctions would be discussed within this committee.While the Yalçınkaya decision has not yet been discussed by the Committee of Ministers, the Minister stated that Belgium will intervene in this matter given the seriousness of the case.Lahbib also expressed concern over Turkey’s non-implementation of the Kavala and Demirtaş decisions, highlighting the need for Turkey to present an action plan for the Yalçınkaya decision, failing which the Committee of Ministers would initiate a process.Question No. 359 from MP and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Els Van Hoof:“The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against Turkey multiple times for violating the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). These cases often involve the detention and/or prosecution of political opponents in a manner deemed by the ECHR to violate the Convention. Examples include Osman Kavala v. Turkey, Selahattin Demirtaş v. Turkey, and Yüksel Yalçınkaya v. Turkey. In the first two cases, the Court also ordered the immediate release of Kavala and Demirtaş, but these orders have not been complied with to date. Human rights organizations indicate that these are not isolated cases.

  1. Has our country taken bilateral or EU-level initiatives to address fundamental rights violations in Turkey? What specific measures have been taken?Has our country, alone or with European partners, already taken steps to ensure Turkey complies with ECHR decisions, especially in the aforementioned three cases? What additional steps can be taken during our EU Presidency for this purpose?”

Full Response from Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib:“The human rights situation in Turkey remains a concern not only for Belgium but for the entire European Union. This issue consistently draws Belgium’s attention and is systematically raised in bilateral contacts and discussions at the EU level. Belgium is deeply concerned about the severe sentences imposed on Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş. This is not an internal matter of Turkey, but a matter of respecting Turkey’s international obligations and the fundamental values of the pan-European and transatlantic community to which it belongs.Belgium, in coordination with other EU member states, has closely monitored the proceedings in these cases. The failure to release Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş directly contradicts ECHR rulings calling for their immediate release. By ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, Turkey committed to complying with the Court’s decisions, including implementing its rulings.These cases are monitored within the Council of Europe by the Committee of Ministers, responsible for ensuring the proper implementation of ECHR decisions. Belgium has always played an active and vocal role when this issue arises within the Council of Europe.In the Kavala case, on July 11, 2022, the Court issued a new ruling under Article 46§4 procedure initiated by the Committee of Ministers, declaring Turkey’s refusal to implement the original ruling a violation of its obligations. This is only the second such ruling in history (following a similar ruling in 2019 in the Ilgar Mammadov/Azerbaijan case).It is now up to the Committee of Ministers to decide how to respond to this second court ruling. In doing so, the Committee has full discretion to determine the most appropriate measures, ranging from (temporarily) suspending a member state’s voting rights to expelling the member state from the Council of Europe.The Council of Europe Secretariat has prepared an options document outlining the various measures the Committee of Ministers could take.The ECHR decision on the Yüksel Yalçınkaya case dates back to September 2023. The case was opened under enhanced supervision at the December 2023 Committee of Ministers meeting. The first discussion of the case (normally undisputed) usually takes place at least six months after the ruling is announced (since the relevant state has six months to submit an action plan). Currently, the case is not on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers’ June session (nor was it on the agenda of the March Committee of Ministers meeting), so Belgium has not yet taken a position on this matter. Given the seriousness of the case, Belgium is likely to intervene.As you know, my services and I systematically address human rights issues during our contacts with Turkish authorities, including cases related to the implementation of ECHR rulings. This was the case during my visit to Ankara and Istanbul in December 2022 and the latest political consultations at the management level of my administration in November 2023.”

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