Prison sentences for conscientious objectors in Turkey
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - TURKEY
Parliamentary Question: Prison sentences for conscientious objectors in Turkey
WRITTEN QUESTION E-3895/07EN by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
Subject: Prison sentences in Turkey for conscientious objectors and renewal of the sentences for as long as the conscientious objection continues
1. Is the Commission aware of the continuing practice in Turkey of punishing the refusal to perform military service with long prison sentences instead of a requirement to perform alternative forms of service, and the additional fact that once the sentence has been served, the person in question is returned to the barracks for military service, with each subsequent refusal being punished by a further term of imprisonment?
2. Is the Commission aware that the European Court of Human Rights has found Turkey guilty of inhumane treatment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)? When does the Commission expect the practice to stop?
3. Can the Commission confirm the information transmitted to the Council of Europe by Turkey on 6 June according to which a draft law has recently been introduced in Turkey whereby the practice of repeated punishment of conscientious objectors would be brought to an end, provided that they abide by their original reasons and refuse military service on those grounds?
4. Is the Commission aware that despite the judgment referred to in paragraph 2 and the announcement referred to in paragraph 3, repeated sentencing of conscientious objectors is still widely practised, as in the case of Murat Ülke, who was recently sentenced to 17½ months in prison because he had again refused military service(1)?
5. Does the Commission agree that the change in the law referred to in paragraph 3 cannot be expected before the European Court of Human Rights judgment of 24 January 2006 is executed? Does it consider it desirable for Turkey to absolve Ülke as quickly as possible from further prosecution and the execution of the most recent judgment, in order to put an end to the illegal situation in which he has had to live in Turkey for years?
6. Is the Commission prepared to make efforts to ensure that this issue is placed on the agenda as quickly as possible in the framework of the ongoing cooperation negotiations between the EU and Turkey, and, above and beyond that, in the talks relating to preparations for Turkish membership of the EU?
(1) See letter of 11 July 2007 from Fischer, Ücpinar and Boyle, lawyers to the CoE. See also http://www.coe.
WRITTEN ANSWER E-3895/07EN by given by Mr Rehn on behalf of the Commission ( 06.09.2007)
The Commission is closely following the proceedings against Mr Osman Murat Ülke, and is aware that the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ülke versus Turkey is pending execution.
The current Turkish legal framework does not regulate adequately the issue of conscientious objection. As indicated by the European Court of Human Rights, this creates a risk that those who refuse to perform their military service on conscientious or religious grounds face repetitive and unlimited penal sanctions, thus resulting in a violation of Article 3 (degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Developments related to conscientious objection are reviewed as part of the accession negotiations, in the context of Chapter 23 - Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. As appropriate, they are also raised with the Turkish authorities in the framework of the regular political dialogue. Lastly, the Commission monitors the execution of judgements of the European Court of Human Rights as part of the annual Commission Progress Reports, in line with the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with Turkey.
Parliamentary Question: Conscientious objection in Turkey
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - TURKEY
WRITTEN QUESTION by Marios Matsakis (ALDE) to the Commission
Subject: Conscientious objection
Turkey continues to persecute, convict and jail conscientious objectors who refuse to be conscripted into the Turkish army. And this despite a European Court of Human Rights ruling in January 2006, in the case of Osman Murat Ulke, which found Turkey guilty, awarded damages to Mr Ulke and urged Turkey to introduce legislation recognising conscientious objection. Since then, Turkey has changed nothing. Is the Commission aware of this problem? What effective representations is the Commission making towards Turkey in order to remedy the situation?
ANSWER given by Mr Rehn on behalf of the Commission
The Commission is aware of the issue raised by the Honourable Member. The current Turkish legal framework does not regulate adequately the issue of conscientious objection and exposes those who refuse to perform their military service on conscientious or religious grounds to the risk of repetitive and unlimited penal sanctions. The cumulative effect of these sanctions has been found by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to constitute degrading treatment (violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights) in the case of Ülke v. Turkey.
Ensuring the full execution of judgments of the ECtHR is a short term priority of the 2006 Accession Partnership for Turkey's accession. In this regard, the Commission raises these issues in the context of the political dialogue with the Turkish authorities at all appropriate levels.
ABHaber 21.11.2007 Brussels