Updated on March 26, 2020.
Seventeen human rigths organisations urged Turkish Government not to discriminate against political prisoners in its forthcoming early parole bill.
The Arrested Lawyers Initiative, European Federation of Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Foundation of Day of the Endangered Lawyers, Freemuse Association, International Association of People’s Lawyers, International Observatory of Human Rights, International Federation of Journalists, Italian Federation for Human Rights, Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens, Platform for Peace and Justice, Social Justice Advocacy Campaign, Open Dialogue Foundation, Media and Law Studies Association made a joint written statement and urged the Government of Turkey not to discriminate against political prisoners in its possible early parole bill. Avvocati Minacciati (Endangered Lawyers-Italy) has later endorsed the call.
In the joint call, seventeen organisations from nine different countries called on the Government of Turkey to ensure that:
i. Release measures include and do not exempt the release of political prisoners, particularly lawyers, journalists, politicians, artists, judges and prosecutors, human rights defenders and and others arbitrarily detained during the purge under emergency measures (2016-2018);
ii. Prisoners who are older, sick, disabled and with children are released first; and,
iii. All releases take place on an urgent basis.
On 25 March 2020, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on governments to take urgent action to protect the health and safety of people in detention and other closed facilities, as part of overall efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views,” Bachelet stressed.
When people are released, they should be medically screened and measures taken to ensure that if needed they receive care and proper follow-up, including health monitoring.
“Under international human rights law, States have an obligation to take steps to prevent foreseeable threats to public health and have a duty to ensure that all who need vital medical care can receive it,” Bachelet said.