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PACE Members Issue Statement: Arbitrary Arrests in Turkey May Constitute Crimes Against Humanity

In a bold move on January 31, 2024, 24 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), stationed in Strasbourg, released a statement asserting that systematic arbitrary arrests in Turkey might rise to the level of crimes against humanity. This declaration, stemming from the efforts of the Brussels-Based Peace and Justice Platform, garnered support from 24 parliamentarians across 13 countries.

The document zeroes in on critical issues, including the landmark Yalçınkaya decision, underlining the European Court of Human Rights’ scrutiny of pivotal cases such as Osman Kavala, Selahattin Demirtaş, and Yüksel Yalçınkaya. The Court’s unwavering position highlights the unpredictability in enforcing Turkish anti-terrorism laws and a systematic breach of fair trial rights and the principle of legal certainty.

Despite these violation cases, the Turkish government’s defiance in adhering to the Court’s rulings signals its non-compliance with the obligations of Council of Europe membership. The situation uncovers alarming instances of enforced disappearances, with victims being abducted and forcibly returned to Turkey.

The statement criticizes the glaring neglect of judicial process principles and the abuse of vague anti-terrorism charges, which contravene the “nullum crimen sine lege” principle, showcasing a systematic disregard for international law.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has frequently voiced that extensive or systematic use of imprisonment or other significant liberties based on ambiguous charges that contravene international law might qualify as crimes against humanity.

The signatories call upon the Committee of Ministers to decisively address these grave concerns as outlined in Resolution 2518 (2023) and the Recommendation 2261 (2023) for the “Immediate Release of Osman Kavala.”

Signees include prominent figures such as Paul Gavan from Ireland, Nerea Ahedo from Spain, Hannah Bardell from the United Kingdom, and others from Turkey, San Marino, Cyprus, France, Germany, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, and Denmark, showcasing a wide international concern over the issue.

Source: Ensar Ugur, TR724.

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