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Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL171, tabled on 9 June 2014

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they and the European Union have made to the government of Turkey concerning (1) attacks on and imprisonment of journalists, including the deaths of staff of "Özgür Gündem", since that newspaper was established, (2) the imprisonment for two years of legal advisers to Mr AbdullahÖcalan, and other lawyers, (3) the release of prisoners held for political reasons, and (4) the case for an early and transparent approach to the problems of the Kurds and other national and religious minorities; and what responses they have received.

Answered on

19 June 2014

We recognise the concerns over the specific cases raised in the question. Although we have not made representations on those specific cases, together with our EU partners, we continue to have a frequent and comprehensive dialogue with the Turkish authorities on human rights and Kurdish issues.

The attacks on and imprisonment of Kurdish journalists and lawyers reflects the wider issue of the need to protect fundamental freedoms in Turkey. We share the concerns of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the EU Commission over freedom of expression and separation of powers between the judiciary and the government. We will continue to work closely with the EU delegation in Ankara and with the EU Commission in Brussels and maintain our engagement with Turkey to encourage progress on governance and human rights issues.

Despite these challenges, we are encouraged by the positive steps taken by the Turkish government to improve protections for minorities. The EU Commission's 2013 Annual Progress Report recognised the significance of the 4th Judicial Reform and Democratization Packages and specifically the progress made on the reform of the legal framework for terrorist offences. Further narrowing of the scope of this legal framework would aid the development of a genuinely open and free press.