Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Joint letter ahead of 13 July Foreign Affairs Council discussion on EU-Turkey relations

To the attention of:

Mr Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ Vice-President European External Action Service (EEAS)  

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of EU Member States

Dear High Representative,

Dear Ministers of Foreign Affairs,

We write to you ahead of the 13 July Foreign Affairs Council discussion on EU-Turkey relations. We welcome this opportunity and call upon the EU and its Member States to address the sharp decline in respect for fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey and to urge the government to carry out genuine reforms. The Foreign Affairs Council will take place against the backdrop of a protracted clampdown on human rights in Turkey as well as the government’s continued control of the judiciary and willingness to weaponize it against perceived critics. Most recently, on 3 July 2020, a court in Istanbul dealt another crushing blow to independent civil society when it issued convictions against four out of the eleven human rights defenders on trial in the emblematic Büyükada case. The court sentenced Taner Kılıç, the honorary chair of Amnesty International Turkey, as well as rights defenders Özlem Dalkıran, İdil Eser and Günal Kurşun on terrorism related charges, despite the absence of any evidence of criminal activity. Indeed, over the course of 12 court hearings, the allegations made against all 11 defendants have been repeatedly and categorically disproven, including by the state’s own evidence. Their convictions are subject to appeal and will require continued international scrutiny. On 6 July, after the court issued its verdict, two of the seven defenders who were acquitted – Veli Acu and Nejat Taştan – were informed that the prosecutor had appealed their acquittal.