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The EU Commission's Turkey Report 2022 Was Published: Civil Society Tries to Raise its Voices Against All Negativities

The European Union (EU) Commission has published the "Turkey Report" as part of the 2022 Enlargement Package. The criticisms in the report on issues such as democracy, fundamental rights and the judiciary, which were already included in previous years' reports, were repeated this year as well.

Civil society tries to make its voice heard despite all the negativity
While the report noted that civil society is facing increasing pressure and that freedom of expression, association, and assembly are increasingly restricted, it pointed out that the implementation of the 2020 Law on the Prevention of Financing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction imposes further restrictions on civil society organizations. It was also recalled that no alternative remedy was offered to human rights organizations that were shut down during the state of emergency.

The report emphasized that civil society continues to make its voice heard and participate in civilian life despite the odds.

It also noted that civil society continues to make significant contributions to the country's fundamental problems, particularly in the areas of education, women's rights, LGBTIQ+, minority rights, freedom of religion or belief, combating discrimination, raising awareness of ethnic and social tolerance, monitoring hate crimes, and supporting refugees.

Civil society organizations are trying to be brought under control with closure procedures
Lawsuits against the We Will Stop Femicide Platform and the Tarlabaşı Community Center were also included in the 2022 Turkey Report.

It is noted that stigmatization, hatred and discriminatory statements against civil society organizations and individuals working in the LGBTIQ+ field are on the rise. It was reported that a lawsuit was filed against the Tarlabaşı Community Center in Istanbul for allegedly making LGBTIQ+ and PKK propaganda.

The report, which states that leaders of the Rosa Women's Association are regularly detained, indicates, "Women politicians and women's organizations frequently face arrests, investigations, detentions, and repression. This situation constitutes a serious obstacle to freedom of association, expression, assembly, and participation in political life," it says.

There are serious doubts about respect for the right to a fair trial
The report said, "The criminalization of human rights defenders by some pro-government media outlets for accepting funds from international donors, particularly the EU, remains a matter of serious concern." It was stressed that the defamatory statements made by high-ranking officials, including the President and ministers, during the trial raised serious doubts about respect for the principle of innocence and the right to a fair trial.

Further regression in freedom of assembly and association
The report noted that there has been further regression in freedom of assembly and association. It noted that there are investigations, court cases, and repeated bans, and administrative fines against demonstrators, disproportionate use of force and interference, and accusations for terrorist activities or violations of the Law on Demonstrations and Marches during peaceful demonstrations.

National laws need to be revised
It was emphasized that the serious regression observed in recent years in the area of freedom of expression continues.

"Enforcement of criminal laws related to national security and the fight against terrorism continues to violate the European Convention on Human Rights and other international standards, and deviates from the case law of the ECtHR. Restrictive measures by state institutions and increased pressure through judicial and administrative means continued to undermine the exercise of freedom of expression. Journalists criminal cases and convictions against human rights defenders, lawyers, writers, opposition politicians, students, artists, and social media users continued.

"There is an urgent need to implement the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and to revise the relevant national laws," the report says.

Deterioration of human and fundamental rights continues
Recalling that many of the measures introduced during the state of emergency are still in place, the report noted, "The legal framework contains general guarantees of respect for human rights and fundamental rights, but legislation and implementation needs to be in line with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)," it said.

It was noted that despite the implementation of the Human Rights Action Plan, which was adopted in 2021, the Action Plan has not led to an improvement in the overall human rights situation as it has not addressed critical issues.

Independent mechanisms should be established
"A strong and diverse civil society, which is an important component of democratic systems, should not be targeted or restricted by the government and state institutions," the Turkey report said. It recommended establishing independent and inclusive mechanisms for consulting civil society organizations on legislation and policy.

Lack of mechanisms for public participation
It stressed that no progress was made in public administration reform during the reporting period and that the politicization of the administration continues. It was noted that administrative accountability is insufficient and that the policy-making process lacks evidence-based methods and participatory mechanisms.

Click to read the full report.


Background Information
On October 12, 2022, the European Union Commission adopted the 2022 Enlargement Package, which provides a detailed assessment of the current situation and progress of the Western Balkans and Turkey towards the European Union. It focuses in particular on the implementation of key reforms and gives clear indications of future reform priorities.

Each year, the EU Commission adopts the "Enlargement Package," which consists of a series of documents describing its policy on EU enlargement. In this context, the progress made by candidate countries and potential candidates, the difficulties encountered and the reforms to be implemented are examined and proposals are made.

Within the framework of the 2022 Enlargement Package of the Commission of the European Union, there is also the Turkey Report, which, as every year, contains a comprehensive assessment of the past year. In this context, it is stated that Turkey "remains an important partner and a candidate country for the European Union".

However, it is also noted that Turkey "continues to move further away from the EU due to the ongoing deterioration in the areas of fundamental rights, independence of the judiciary, economic management and lack of reforms on some sectoral issues." Moreover, it is noted that the said regression includes the appropriate environment for a healthy civil society, participation in decision-making processes, and freedom of association.

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