Notes on the Agenda
CM/Notes/780/2.7 9 January 2002
780 Meeting, 16 January 2002
2 Political questions
2.7 Honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 (2001)
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 (2001)
The Deputies are invited to consider with a view to its adoption, the draft reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 (2001) on honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey.
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 on Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Turkey was adopted by the Assembly on 28 June 2001 at its 23rd Sitting.
At their 761st meeting (18 July 2001, item 3.1) under consideration of texts adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly at the 3rd Part of the 2001 Session (Strasbourg, 25-29 June 2001), concerning Recommendation 1529 (2001) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey, the Deputies:
- decided to bring it to the attention of their Governments;
- noted that their Chairman would prepare a draft reply for consideration at their 763rd meeting (12 September 2001).
At their 763rd meeting (12 September 2001, item 1.1), the Deputies agreed to postpone the item to one of their forthcoming meetings.
The Deputies are now invited to consider with a view to its adoption, the draft reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 (2001) on honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey as it appears in the following draft decision.
780th meeting – 16 January 2002
Honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 (2001)
(CM/Del/Dec(2001)777/1.1, CM/Del/Dec(2001)763/1.1, CM/Del/Dec(2001)761/3.1
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 (2001))
The Deputies adopted the following reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1529 (2001) on honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey:
“1. The Committee of Ministers refers to the Parliamentary Assembly’s Recommendation 1529 (2001) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Turkey and welcomes the progress made by the Turkish authorities in the honouring of their obligations (paragraph 1, i-ii of Recommendation 1529), which was reflected in the report submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly (doc. 9120) and during the Assembly debate on this report. The Committee of Ministers welcomes the political will that has enabled the current reforms in Turkey.
2. The Committee of Ministers also welcomes the constitutional amendments, adopted in September 2001, i.e. after the adoption of the Assembly’s Recommendation, to the extent they improve protection of human rights, in line with the priorities established in the National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis communautaire in the framework of the accession process to the European Union. Implementation of these amendments should contribute to ensuring respect of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.
3. As regards other aspects of Turkey’s obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe, for which the Assembly expressed concerns (paragraphs 1. iii. and iv. of Recommendation 1529 and paragraph 16 of Resolution 1256 to which Recommendation 1529 refers), and for which further action is required, the Committee of Ministers wishes to bring the following to the attention of the Parliamentary Assembly:
4. In the light of its Declaration on European death penalty free zone of November 2000, the Committee of Ministers recognises the progress achieved through the recent constitutional amendments abolishing the death penalty, except for times of war, imminent threat of war and terrorist offences. At the same time, the Committee of Ministers, while taking note of the moratorium in force since 1984 which should be maintained, firmly expects further progress in the near future towards de jure abolition of the death penalty and ratification of Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights. In this context, the Committee of Ministers was informed that the new draft Turkish Penal Code under preparation does not include the death penalty.
5. The Committee of Ministers has taken note of measures, both legislative (aggravation of penalties) and administrative (introduction of new laws regarding custody and interrogation), which aim at eradicating torture and ill treatment, at sanctioning effectively those responsible for such acts and at implementing the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Torture (CPT). It welcomes in this context the recent decision of the Turkish authorities to publish the reports of all the CPT’s visits to Turkey. Such publication is an illustration of the effective co-operation between the Turkish authorities and the Committee on the Prevention of Torture which is instrumental in the improvement in this area.
6. As regards more specific issues raised in the Recommendation, the Committee of Ministers wishes to inform the Assembly that, with regard to the Loizidou case (paragraph 2(i) of the Recommendation), it examined the situation following its 3rd Interim Resolution (2001)80 on 2-3 October and 4-5 December 2001. The Committee of Ministers reiterates the fundamental importance it attaches to member States respecting their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and in particular their obligation to abide by the judgments of the European court of Human Rights.
7. As regards paragraph 2 (ii)a of the Recommendation referring to the need to revise certain legislative provisions regarding freedom of expression, the Committee of Ministers wishes to draw the Assembly’s attention to the following points:
i. Recalling the fundamental importance of the respect of freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (and subsequent texts adopted by both the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly), it considers that a first step in achieving significant and long-lasting progress in this field involves amending the legislative framework governing freedom of expression and information as well as the functioning of the media, in compliance with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the principles enshrined in the relevant instruments of the Council of Europe. In this context, it takes note that the constitutional amendments adopted in September 2001 substantially lift restrictions on the freedom of thought and expression.
ii. The Committee of Ministers is presently supervising the execution of a number of judgments finding violations of freedom of expression notably with regard to various Articles of the Criminal Code and of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It has already been informed by the Turkish authorities that a comprehensive programme of reforms is being drawn up with a view to aligning, in the short-term, Turkish law and practice with the Convention’s requirements, as well as the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, in the field of freedom of expression.
iii. As regards individual measures, the Committee of Ministers has, in its turn, urged the Turkish authorities, without further delay and pending a reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to take ad hoc measures allowing the consequences of the applicants’ convictions contrary to the Convention in the above-mentioned cases to be rapidly and fully erased 1 . The Committee of Ministers expresses the Council of Europe’s readiness to give due priority to legislative expertise regarding the necessary reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
iv. The Committee of Ministers expresses its readiness to help the Turkish authorities in undertaking all necessary actions within the context of implementation of the National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis communautaire which would allow implementation of the new legislation into every-day life. The Council of Europe could, in particular, conduct at short notice a legal expertise of the law on Turkish radio and television following the recent constitutional amendments (see also below, para. 8b).
8. As regards the Assembly’s recommendation that the Committee of Ministers step up the assistance of the Council of Europe to Turkey in a number of areas (paragraph 2 (ii) a and b of Recommendation 1529), the Committee of Ministers wishes to inform the Assembly of significant developments of its co-operation programmes with Turkey:
a. A one-year pilot programme for “professional training on Human Rights for the police and gendarmerie” has been agreed between the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the Turkish authorities. It should be operational at the beginning of 2002.
b. The content and structure of a two-year “European Commission/Council of Europe Joint Initiative with Turkey on Human Rights and the rule of law” has also been agreed and will include in particular the following projects: (a) Intensive training on the ECHR and its case law for the judiciary and other public officials: (b) Awareness campaign on Human Rights and democratic values; (c) Support to the legislative reforms. On the basis of the Turkey National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis communautaire, technical assistance/expertise for the reform of legislation in the fields of organisation of the judicial system, criminal law, civil law, data protection, media, democratic institutions (NGOs, political parties, elections) will be provided in due course.
c. The Council of Europe is also contributing, through bilateral co-operation, to the reform of the prison system undertaken by the Turkish authorities. So far, two seminars on prison-staff training and a seminar on community (alternative) sanctions have taken place. There has also been a provisional agreement on three additional topics for seminars: health in prisons, activities in prisons and the general status of prison staff.”
Note 1 See Interim Resolution ResDH(2001)106, adopted on 23 July 2001, as well as documents CM/INF(2000)28 rev.2 and CM/INF(2001)7.