Question from Mr Andrej HUNKO: How did the Committee of Ministers deal with the critical situation of democracy, human rights and rule of law in Turkey before and after the attempted military coup in Turkey and with relation to the measures taken by the Turkish authorities thereafter – including suspension of judges, removal of State officials on a massive scale, violation of the freedom of the press including the closure of numerous news outlets and arrests on a massive scale, removal of elected mayors – that led to accusations of torture not only in special cases but as a widespread phenomenon, and what decisions did the Committee of Ministers make?

Reply by the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers:

The Committee of Ministers has been, through its Chair, in close contact with the Turkish Government since the coup attempt of 15 July 2016. Already on 16 July, the then Chair of the Committee made a statement firmly condemning the coup attempt, expressing support for the democratically elected authorities and reiterating the readiness of the Council of Europe to continue to provide assistance to Turkey on the basis of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In another statement dated 19 July, she recalled that, as a Council of Europe member State, Turkey was bound by all the commitments deriving from the European Convention on Human Rights and its additional protocols.

The Ministers' Deputies subsequently held an informal meeting on 5 August, during which the Secretary General reported on the talks he had held two days previously in Ankara with Turkey's highest authorities. The Chair of the Committee of Ministers also visited Ankara on 24 and 25 August for further discussions. Finally, on 7 September, the Ministers' Deputies held an exchange of views with Mr Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended by several foreign affairs ministers and other high-level representatives of member States.

The Committee of Ministers will continue to follow closely developments in Turkey and the assistance provided by the Council of Europe in this context. In this respect it welcomes the meetings held on 2 September in Strasbourg and at the end of September in Ankara between experts of the Turkish Ministry of Justice and representatives of the secretariat to discuss the compatibility with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights of the measures taken under the state of emergency. It looks forward to the follow-up of these meetings. It also notes that a delegation of the CPT recently visited Turkey between 29 August and 6 September 2016. The Committee of Ministers also welcomes the visit by the Commissioner for Human Rights to Turkey between 27 and 29 September.