The Turkish authorities are conducting repressive campaigns against members of the Fethullah Gülen movement, accusing them of being behind the attempted coup to overthrow President Erdoğan in 2016.
On 11 June 2019, the European Court of Human Rights found that the rights of five Turkish teachers who had been expelled from Moldova to Turkey had been violated. The Court concluded that ‘depriving the applicants of their liberty in this way amounted to an extra-legal transfer of persons from the Moldovan territory to Turkey which circumvented all guarantees offered to them by domestic and international law’.
Since then, more than one hundred Turkish citizens who are members of the Fethullah Gülen movement have been deported to Turkey through extraordinary renditions carried out by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation with the cooperation of other countries, including Kosovo, Qatar, Malaysia, Gabon and Myanmar.
On 16 September 2020, French Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Thierry Mariani of the Identity and Democracy political Group posed a parliamentary written question to the European Commission.
MEP Mariani asked the Commission “what steps is it taking to encourage the Eastern Partnership countries not to engage in extrajudicial extraditions to Turkey?”
0n 24 November 2020, the High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell responded to the question on behalf of the European Commission.
High Representative and Vice-President Borrell declared that “the European Court of Human Rights established that the expulsion of the Turkish nationals legally residing in the Republic of Moldova violated their rights” and “the European Union has consistently expressed its concerns in bilateral meetings with the Moldovan authorities stating clearly that the rule of law is a fundamental principle of the European Union and lays also at the heart of the European Union’s relations with the Republic of Moldova, as provided in the Association Agreement”.
High Representative and Vice-President Borrell further reported that “the same message is being consistently passed by the European Union to all Eastern Partnership countries” and “the European Union expects all Eastern Partnership countries, including the Republic of Moldova, to act within the full respect for the rule of law and universal respect for and observance of international conventions for human rights and fundamental freedoms”. He added that “arbitrary procedures concerning arrest, detention or expulsion go against these principles”.
“The European Union has also been consistent in its messages to Turkey; while the European Union understands the need to bring those responsible for the coup attempt of 15 July 2016 to justice, any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process and well established international norms when seeking extradition” explained High Representative and Vice-President Borrell.
In closing, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell concluded that “the right of every individual to a fair trial needs to be fully respected” and “as a European Union candidate country and a longstanding member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has subscribed to these commitments”.
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