COVID-19: Rapporteur calls on Spain and Turkey to include politicians in early prison releases prompted by Coronavirus

Boriss Cilevics (Latvia, SOC), PACE rapporteur on “Should politicians be prosecuted for statements made in the exercise of their mandates?” (Motion for a resolution Doc. 14802), has called on Spain and Turkey to include imprisoned politicians in early releases prompted by the threat posed by the Coronavirus in overcrowded prisons.

“I welcome the measures taken in many countries to release from prison non-violent prisoners who do not pose a threat to society or to apply non-custodial sanctions to them. This is the right thing to do in the face of the threat posed by the spread of the Coronavirus in prisons,” he said.

“Prisoners with political backgrounds, such as the Catalan politicians convicted for their role in the unconstitutional referendum in October 2017, or the Turkish parliamentarians, mayors and other politicians imprisoned for speeches made in the exercise of their mandate, should certainly benefit from such measures,” added Mr Cilevics.

“Having personally met the Catalan colleagues during my fact-finding visit to Spain last February, I am fully convinced that these women and men pose no threat to anyone. The very fact of their detention causes concern, but the COVID-19 crisis should definitely prompt their release. The same is true for the imprisoned Turkish opposition politicians, journalists and civil society actors.”

Mr Cilevics has submitted a memorandum on this topic and held a hearing with three former judges of the European Court of Human Rights at a meeting of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in Berlin (Germany) on 11 November 2019.

He is due to submit his final report later this year.