The Turkey report prepared by the Audit Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was discussed and accepted with a large majority of votes on Wednesday.
According to the report, the disinformation law, still being debated in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM), poses an obstacle to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Stating concerns regarding the possible consequences, especially before the upcoming Turkish elections, the PACE calls on the TBMM not to enact the disinformation law.
The Council of Europe’s parliamentarians also urges Turkey for reforms “to restore the full independence of the judiciary”, arguing that the change in the political system adopted in 2017 in Turkey had “seriously weakened the democratic institutions in Türkiye and made the system of checks and balances dysfunctional and deficient.”
In the discussion session, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) representatives criticised the report citing that it contained political discrimination and double standards against Turkey.
On the other hand, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) representatives accused the Turkish government of “attempting to mute the opposition”.
HDP MP Feleknas Uca said that the Turkish government constantly violates the principles of the rule of law and human rights. Uca also noted that the government was attempting to shut down the HDP.
HDP MP Hisyar Özsoy expressed his concerns that the government will increase the pressure on the opposition before the election.
“What we do not know is what this council of Parliamentary Assembly plans to do with a member state that not once or twice, but consistently defies its rules and refuses to implement its judgements and decisions,” said Özsoy and called on the PACE to use existing enforcement mechanisms and even developing new ones.
The report, written jointly by British MP John Howell and Latvian MP Boriss Cilevic, was accepted with a large majority of votes at the General Assembly session. The amendment proposals submitted by AKP MPs were rejected.
The Assembly also reiterated its call to free human rights defender Osman Kavala and urged the Turkish authorities to implement the Strasbourg court ruling in this case.
The PACE report has no power to pass binding laws; however, it carries great weight and generally results in the country concerned bringing its new law into line with Council standards. If a state seriously violates Council of Europe standards, the Assembly can suspend national delegations and even expel the state from the Council of Europe.