A new Action Plan on Human Rights, announced by President Erdogan on 2 March after a two-year long preparation, represents another missed opportunity for the Turkish authorities to display a strong commitment to addressing the root causes of the most crucial problems of Turkey’s human rights situation. The Plan does not include any concrete steps to ensure the independence of the judiciary, with no measures foreseen to remove the executive control over the judiciary including through necessary constitutional changes. It does not foresee any concrete action to prevent politically motivated and punitive pre-trial detention and convictions under overly broad and vague anti-terrorism laws against opposition politicians, political activists, journalists, and human rights defenders solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Crucially, it does not include any commitment to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
On the contrary, developments that took place since the announcement of the Action Plan confirm the ever-growing record of criminalization of human rights defenders and dissenting voices and severe backsliding on international human rights standards. With the ink barely dry on the new Human Rights Action Plan, the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is the latest sign of contempt by Turkey to the Council of Europe based human rights protection system.