The Council of Europe is a champion of freedom of expression and we respect the right of all individuals to express their opinions over actions that have been taken by the Organisation, following the coup attempt in Turkey. We are strongly committed to the value of free debate.
The following right to reply has been made in response to a number of factual misrepresentations.
During a visit to Ankara on August 3 and 4 Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland met with members of the Government as well as leaders of all three opposition parties represented in the Turkish Parliament.
The Secretary General stated publicly that he “fully understands that Turkey needs to investigate and prosecute those people who were behind the coup attempt, but this must be done in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the court in Strasbourg”.
Since the coup attempt, the Secretary General has repeatedly made clear that no member state of the Council of Europe is permitted to exercise capital punishment and that the right to life must be upheld at all times, including during a state of emergency. This point has been stressed in numerous press interviews, widely issued public statements and in discussions with the Turkish authorities. In an article published on 22 August 2016 in Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, La Stampa, Hurriyetand Hürriyet Daily News, the Secretary General writes that restoring the death penalty would be a ‘regressive, unethical and isolating step’ which would ‘force Turkey out of the Council of Europe’ (http://www.coe.int/en/web/secretary-general/opinion-articles-2016) In the same article the Secretary General urges against a ‘far-reaching purge of public official, journalists and academics’ in response to the coup attempt.
The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs will attend a meeting of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on 7 September. In its ongoing dialogue with the Turkish authorities, the Organisation will continue to focus on freedom of expression, the procedural rights of individuals who are in custody or pre-trial detention and the right to a fair trial, which begins with the presumption of innocence.
The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s group of Constitutional experts, will continue to evaluate the situation of judges and prosecutors in Turkey as well as any amendments to the Constitution.
The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, whose visits are not pre-publicised, takes very seriously the allegations of torture and ill-treatment voiced by some observers.