November 21, 2016
European civil society calls for action from the Council of Europe to closely monitor the developments of the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
The bill explained below, proposed by the ruling party in Turkey (AKP), has been one in the line of many recent developments that give solid ground for concern when it comes to the future of Turkey. Following the EU-Turkey deal and other developments that have been sparking controversy between EU society and Turkey, it is fundamental to ensure that values and founding pillars of the European integration process are being upheld; such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Thus, in the light of recent events and concerning news arriving from Turkey, AEGEE-Europe and the European Youth Forum call upon the Council of Europe to ensure a strong and sustainable monitoring mechanism in Turkey. The Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights should challenge legislative proposals and acts of the government that go against the fundamental values the Council of Europe fosters and strengthens in the European continent.
22 November 2016 – Update: This morning, the bill proposing prisoners to be released was withdrawn in the Turkish Parliament. The new law would have allowed prisoners convicted of rape to be released in case they marry their victims.
The bill was proposed on the 17th November to the General Assembly of GNAT (Grand National Assembly of Turkey) by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The bill suggests that for crimes of sexual harassment perpetrated prior to 16 November 2016, if the perpetrator marries the victim, the sentence will be suspended and dropped following the limitation period. The proposed bill is a violation of fundamental human rights and only deepens international concerns regarding the state of social and political developments in Turkey.
The bill was brought to the floor of the General Assembly and was approved by AKP deputies despite the nay votes of both the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The second round of voting is going to take place on 22nd November 2016.
We stand united against the proposed legislative change that is essentially condemning universal human rights, undermines the efforts of the international community to protect children against violence and assault, and calls into question the ethical and moral standards of the state of politics in Turkey, where the government issues a bill that exploits victims of rape and sexual assault and legitimizes further acts of violence against women and children.
Thousands of people have been protesting on the streets of Istanbul, Izmir and Trabzon, calling for the government to withdraw the bill immediately. The government insists the legislation is aimed at dealing with the widespread custom of child marriage, but critics say that it will legitimise child rape. Protesters clapped and chanted: “We will not shut up. We will not obey. Withdraw the bill immediately!”
A massive campaign on the social media was started with the hashtag #tecavuzmesrulastirilamaz (rape cannot be legitimized) showing peoples reaction to this unacceptable legislation draft. A similar campaign in change.org in the issue has gotten more than 800.000 signatures and continues growing to the target of 1 Million signatures.
The Turkish Parliament was scheduled to vote on the bill on 22nd November. The bill was finally withdrawn.
The statement of the Minister of Justice Bekir Bozda? can be find in the link below (in Turkish)
Declaration of the Rights of the Child: https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/1959-Declaration-of-the-Rights-of-the-Child.pdf
- Principle 2 The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
- Principle 8 The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
- Principle 9 The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.
November 18 – European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and sexual abuse