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, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on May 9.
Zeid stressed that these rights are particularly crucial in the context of elections scheduled for June 24.
On April 19, a day after the Turkish government called for early parliamentary and presidential elections, it announced that it would renew the state of emergency for the seventh time.
The state of emergency suspends its obligations under several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The articles relate directly to the freedoms of expression, assembly, association and the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs.
“Over the past two years, through successive states of emergency, the space for dissent in Turkey has shrunk considerably, with at least 29 more journalists jailed on terrorism offences in just the last week of April alone,” Zeid said.
“The heavy police presence and arrests during the May Day protests also demonstrated yet again the severely limited space for freedom of peaceful assembly in the country.
“It is difficult to imagine how credible elections can be held in an environment where dissenting views and challenges to the ruling party are penalized so severely.”
The High Commissioner called on 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.
[Abridged from ANF News.]