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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Turkey and UK condemned for human rights concerns

Turkey and UK condemned for human rights concerns

Dear Turkey

Re: High level Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights 26-27 April, Izmir (Turkey)

I note from the

"Welcoming Address by H.E. Ahmet DAVUTOĞLU, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of"

that you have missed out the word "Europe" from the end of your title.

"First of all you are most welcome to one of the most beautiful city of the Mediterranean, İzmir. I hope you will enjoy your stay in Izmir. I hope we will have a very fruitful session".

And, instead of "city" correct English should be "cities".

"As one of the founding members of the organisation, Turkey is pleased to host this important conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights. On behalf of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and the Government of Turkey, I wish to extend to you all a very warm welcome to Izmir and to Turkey".

Below I have copied and pasted the list of the founding members of the Council of Europe from the Treaty of London 1949 (Statute of the Council of Europe).

"The Governments of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the French Republic, the Irish Republic, the Italian Republic, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

As you can plainly see, Turkey is not a founding member.

According to Wikipedia:

"The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Greece and Turkey joined three months later, and Iceland and Germany the next year. It now has 47 member states, with Montenegro being the latest to join".

Harold Wilson famously said that a week in politics is a long time. However, my 3 months in Detention Centre has also been described as a "Short, sharp, shock". You were 3 months late getting to the party. Your misreading of history and the typos referred to above are not the real reasons why I launch my attack upon you.

"My country has responded positively to the invitation made at Interlaken in February 2010 to the future Chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers to follow up on the implementation of the Interlaken Declaration. The reform of the Court has been identified as a priority of the Turkish Chairmanship".

Kenneth Clarke has also recently "warned Britain would seek to reform the Strasbourg-based court when it takes over the chairmanship of the council of Europe in November".

You quite rightly state:

"The Convention system, to which the European Court of Human Rights is central, plays a pivotal role, establishing common standards for the respect and protection of human rights. It has value both as a symbol enshrining our shared values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and it also serves as a practical mechanism for ensuring that rights and freedoms are protected and that our shared values are thus respected".

Given what you say, here, can you explain why it is that you are presently the Chair of the Committee of Ministers, and seeking reforms of the Court, and yet your human rights record according to the Court statistics is atrocious? Between 1959-2010 you have been found guilty of 2,245 human rights violations by the Court! This is the worst record of any of the 47 Member States in the Council of Europe. Belarus cannot join because of human rights concerns. Don't you think your track record is of great concern?

Approximately 9,000 cases are before the Committee of Ministers waiting for execution of the Court's judgments. According to the Joint Committee on Human Rights report in 2006 50 of those cases involve the UK.

The Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, Turkey and the UK all suffer from a credibility problem. It is too late to stop Turkey being the Chair of the Committee of Ministers because its period is almost over. However, given the concern in relation to the UK is it right that the UK should assume the Chair in November 2011?

The Court may well be in need of reform. But, there is also a need to reform the Committee of Ministers because there are too many Ministers from countries with bad human rights records. This means that its function of supervising execution of judgments is compromised. The UK also is in need of reforms to rectify the systemic failures. A country which cannot implement judgments against it can hardly sit in a position of supervising execution of judgments against other countries.

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