25 April 1995

Doc. 7290

REPORT on Turkey's military intervention in northern Iraq and on Turkey's respect of commitments concerning constitutional and  legislative reforms

(Rapporteur: Mr BARSONY, Hungary, Socialist Group)


Summary

      The Assembly is deeply concerned about human rights violations in Turkey - notably in the south-east of the country, following armed conflict between central government forces, the PKK and Kurdish nationalists.

      The Assembly considers that Turkey, in the light of the above facts, is in violation of its obligations under the Council of Europe's Statute.

      The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers call on Turkey to withdraw its forces from northern Iraq and seek a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.

      Furthermore, it should set a specific timetable for Turkey to bring its Constitution and legislation in line with the principles and standards of the Council of Europe.

      Finally, the Committee of Ministers is asked to consider suspending Turkey's rights of representation, unless it can report substantial progress at the Assembly' third part-session (26-30 June 1995).

I. Draft recommendation

1.       The Assembly is deeply concerned about human rights violations in Turkey - notably in the south-east of the country, following armed conflict between central government forces, the PKK and Kurdish nationalists.

2.       The Assembly underlines the right of Turkey, as any other country, to fight - within the limits of international law - against terrorism.

3.       The Assembly condemns PKK terrorism, as much within as outside Turkey.

4.       The Assembly condemns Turkey's military intervention in northern Iraq, regards it as contrary to international law, and expresses its anxiety for the safety of the civilian population.

5.       The Assembly considers that Turkey should immediately withdraw its forces and commit itself to seeking a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.

6.       The Assembly expects the Turkish authorities to assist in the organisation of an Assembly fact-finding mission to areas of tension in the south-east as part of the effort to find such a solution.

7.       The Assembly notes that despite repeated assurances from the Turkish Government and despite repeated requests from the Assembly (notably following its delegation's visit 1-3 September 1994), there has been no significant progress in constitutional and legislative reform.

8.       In this latter regard, the Assembly strongly condemns the sentencing of several Kurdish parliamentarians to up to 15 years' imprisonment for their political beliefs.

9.       The Assembly considers that Turkey, in the light of the above facts, is in violation of its obligations under the Council of Europe's Statute.

10.       Furthermore, the Assembly notes the European Parliament's position that the "state of human rights in Turkey is too grave to allow the establishment of a customs union".

11.       The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       call on Turkey to withdraw its forces from northern Iraq;

ii.       call on Turkey to seek a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem on the basis of the principles embodied in the Statute and the relevant Conventions of the Council of Europe;

iii.       set a specific timetable for Turkey to bring its Constitution and legislation in line with the principles and standards of the Council of Europe;

iv.       consider suspending Turkey's rights of representation, unless the Committee of Ministers can report substantial progress on items i - iii above at the Assembly's third part-session (26-30 June 1995).

II. Explanatory Memorandum

by Mr BÁRSONY

1.       Since 1980 the Parliamentary Assembly has had to deal several times with human rights in Turkey and with violations of these rights by the Turkish authorities.

2.       In 1992 [Resolution 985], the Assembly described the human rights situation in detail. The Turkish Parliament and Government were informed that the Turkish Constitution was found to be incompatible with conventions of the Council of Europe - notably in the field of human rights.

3.       In 1994 [Resolution 1030], the Assembly denounced the arrest and imprisonment of democratically elected members of the Turkish Parliament. Articles of the Turkish penal code were found to be incompatible with the norms and conventions of the Council of Europe.

4.       Later in 1994 [Resolution 1041], the Assembly noted that no response had been made to these Resolutions. Not only had the Turkish authorities failed to take any positive steps; members of the Turkish parliamentary delegation to the Assembly deemed Resolution 1030 "null and void". This was the Resolution in which the Assembly protested against the banning of the DEP parliamentary party and the sentencing of their elected members of Parliament; and in which Turkey was urged to accept an official CSCE delegation within the frame of CSCE human rights control mechanisms.

5.       These Resolutions also dealt with the oppression in south-east Turkey - notably, of citizens of Kurdish origin.

6.       The Assembly has always held that no form of terrorism, open or hidden, can be justified by any real or alleged defence of human rights. We condemn any recourse to any type of military force as a response to minority problems. But not even the need to combat terrorism can exempt the authorities of any country from the obligation to respect human rights and the rights of the civilian population.

7.       The Assembly has repeatedly held that nothing can justify military action which seriously threatens the civilian population.

8.       Respect for human rights and for the Council of Europe's conventions is an obligation of binding force as much for "longstanding" as for "new" Member States of our Organisation. States can only accede to the Council of Europe on the basis of these values. There are no double standards.

9.       Also, a serious view must be taken of the launching of military action by a Member State on the territory of a neighbouring country, without prior consultation of its partner Member States in the international organisations which are necessarily concerned.

10.       In conclusion, the Political Affairs Committee considers:

      i.       that in spite of several years' endeavour, the Turkish Parliament has failed to introduce amendments to the Constitution which would guarantee the functioning of democratic parties. Until now, there have only been oral promises. No obligations having an effect in public law have been entered into by the Turkish authorities, nor endorsed by committees of the Parliament;

      ii.       that as a result of lack of essential change in the penal code, members of parliament facing charges are still in a precarious position;

      iii.       that discrimination against the civilian Kurdish population continues, with no signs of a positive attitude on the part of the Turkish authorities towards its elimination, nor readiness to envisage a peaceful solution. On the contrary, an increasing number of civilian villages, with their inhabitants, have become victims of military action - both inside the country and across the border.

11.       Following are the elements of the position which is proposed to the Assembly:

      a)       Turkish armed forces should be withdrawn immediately from the territory of foreign states;

      b)       committees of the Turkish Parliament should be given a deadline for bringing forward amendments to the Constitution and the penal code, with a view to bringing Turkey into compliance with its obligations under the Statute and conventions of the Council of Europe;

      c)       the Turkish authorities should facilitate the visit of Assembly representatives, with a guarantee of free movement throughout the country - notably in those regions of the south-east with minority conflicts;

      d)       the Committee of Ministers should suspend Turkey's rights of representation until these demands are responded to.

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Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee.

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: to be assessed by the Committee on the Budget and the Intergovernmental Work Programme.

Reference to committee: Doc. 7276, reference N° 2006 of 24 April 1995 - Urgent debate decided by the Assembly on 24 April 1995.

Draft recommendation adopted by the committee on 25 April 1995 by 21 votes to 4 with 6 abstentions.

Members of the committee: Mr Kelchtermans (Chairman), Lord Finsberg (Vice-Chairman), MM. Bàrsony (Vice-Chairman), Ala-Nissilä, Alvarez-Cascos, Antretter, Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman, Mr Baumel, Mrs Belohorska, MM. Bergqvist, Bernardini, Björn Bjarnason, Björck, Bloetzer (Alternate: Gross), Bokov, Büchel, Bühler, Cerqueda Pascuet, Eörsi, Fassino, Galanos, Gjellerod, Gotzev, Gricius, Güner, Hardy, Irmer, Iwinski, Kalus (Alternate: Bachna), Kaspereit, Kelam, Kirsteins, La Loggia, Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM. van der Linden, Machete, Martins, Masseret, Mimaroglu, Mitchell, Mühlemann, Pahor, Mrs Papandreou, MM. Pavlidis, Pozzo (Alternate; Speroni), de Puig, Radulescu Botica, Schieder, Schwimmer, Seeuws, Severin, Sir Dudley Smith, Mr Spacek , Mrs Suchocka, MM. Thoresen, Vella.

NB. The names of those members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries to the committee: Mr Hartland, Mr Kleijssen et Ms Chatzivassiliou.