Turkey must lift state of emergency for credible elections - says United Nations Human Rights Office

GENEVA (9 May 2018) – Protracted restrictions on the human rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are incompatible with the conduct of a credible electoral process in Turkey, said the UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) on Wednesday.
“This is a protracted state of emergency in which the freedoms of expression, the freedom of association and the freedom of assembly are suspended”, said OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani stressing that these rights are particularly crucial in the context of elections.
On 19 April, a day after the Government of Turkey called for early parliamentary and presidential elections, it announced that it would renew the state of emergency for the seventh time, suspending its obligations under several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including articles 19, 21, 22 and 25. These articles relate directly to the freedoms of expression, assembly, association and the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs.
“People should be able to express dissenting views, they should be out there making their demands, making their grievances known. Political parties should have the equality of arms to be able to express what they are able to offer, so that people have a genuine choice,” Shamdasani said.
The UN High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on the Government of Turkey to immediately lift the state of emergency to enable all of its citizens to participate fully and equally in the conduct of public affairs, and to exercise their rights to vote and to stand for election without unreasonable restrictions.
In a recent report on the situation of human rights in Turkey, the UN Human Rights Office expressed concerns that routine renewals of the state of emergency and the extensive use of emergency decrees had led to an erosion of the ability of civil society, the judiciary and the media to serve their essential watchdog roles in the country.
“Just in the last week in April alone we had 29 journalists who were jailed, with long prison terms,” Shamdasani said. “We’re afraid that in this context, of a state of emergency, there cannot be credible elections in Turkey.”
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