Türkiye: Amnesty International submission for the EU Enlargement Package / Opinion 2024

This submission details Amnesty International’s human rights concerns in relation to Türkiye and outlines key recommendations that the EU should prioritize in the framework of Türkiye’s EU accession process as well as in its broader bilateral relations with the country.

Indeed, whether in the framework of the EU accession process or the EU-Türkiye association agreement, the EU’s commitment to human rights must apply across all areas of cooperation. Ongoing discussions on re-engaging with Türkiye must therefore not come at the expense of human rights considerations or strong and consistent EU messaging on fundamental rights and the rule of law. In an era of increasing geopolitical upheaval, it is crucial that adherence to human rights and the rule of law becomes more, not less central to the EU’s relations with its partners.

The EU and its member states should ensure that their engagement with the Turkish authorities as well as all technical and financial support foreseen within the framework of Türkiye’s EU accession process is used to foster genuine reforms in the field of human rights and the rule of law.

Prioritizing human rights in EU-Türkiye relations is all the more important given the protracted erosion of the rule of law and the sustained crackdown on human rights in the country. Between June 2023 and April 2024, baseless investigations, prosecutions and convictions of human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians and others persisted. Anti-terror and disinformation laws were used to curtail freedom of expression. The new legislative amendments introduced by the 8th Judicial Package once again failed to address the most significant and structural shortcomings within the judiciary that lie at the root of the persistent erosion of human rights in Türkiye. The right to peaceful assembly remained severely curtailed. Law enforcement officials used unlawful force to detain at least 224 people in banned Pride marches in several provinces in June and July 2023. The country continued to host the world’s largest number of refugees while some remained at risk of being unlawfully returned, against a backdrop of rising anti-refugee and racist rhetoric by politicians and in the media. There were also serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.

This briefing covers the following key issues which the EU should address in the 2024 EU enlargement package:

  1. Independence of the Judiciary
  2. The right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association
  3. Women’s rights
  4. LGBTI rights
  5. Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
  6. Impunity
  7. Torture and ill treatment