EP lawmakers call on Turkey to release political prisoners amid COVID-19 outbreak

Nordic Monitor

The European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Turkey, Nacho Sánchez Amor, and the chair of the EP Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Sergey Lagodinsky, on Monday urged Turkey to implement the non-discriminatory release of prisoners in the fight against COVID-19.

“We urge the Turkish authorities to follow the call made by the UN High Commissioner and release every person detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting political views,” the MEPs stated.

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on UN member states to immediately release political prisoners and government critics under detention.

“In Turkey, there are currently hundreds of journalists, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, politicians, academics, human rights defenders, artists and others who are in pre-trial detention or serving sentences without evidence that they committed any violent act or crime. To exempt them from the early release measures would represent an aggravated punishment and unjustified unfair treatment, as they do not represent any risk to public security,” Amor and Lagodinsky underlined.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. We welcome the Turkish government’s plan to substitute prison time with alternatives such as early parole or house arrest, which could apply to up to 100.000 inmates. This measure is in line with the recent call made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to all governments. However, it is crucial to apply this in a non-discriminatory and objective way, based on health criteria and on the risks that released prisoners may pose to society,” the MEPs said.


MEPs Nacho Sánchez Amor and Sergey Lagodinsky


They also expressed their solidarity and support for the increasing efforts to fight the pandemic in Turkey.

“Whatever the state of play of our political relationship, we are all on the same side in this and we need to act together to fight the pandemic. We call on the European Commission and the member states to include Turkey in the efforts that the EU is making in this combat, also by mobilising funds from the EU Solidarity Fund or other instruments to help Turkey, if Ankara requests this.”

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