Europe’s top rights body slams Turkey’s emergency decrees

A Turkish police special forces officer secures central Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue, the main shopping road of Istanbul, in this July 2016 file photo. Europe's top human rights and democracy-promoting body says a series of decrees issued by Turkey's government, as part of a state of emergency declared following last year's coup attempt, exceed international democratic standards and Turkey's Constitution. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Europe’s top rights body slams Turkey’s emergency decrees

ANKARA, Turkey: Experts from Europe’s top human rights body on Friday expressed concerns over decrees issued by Turkey’s government that removed elected mayors from posts and replaced them with unelected officials.
Following last year’s coup attempt Turkey declared a state of emergency that allows the government to rule by decrees, largely by-passing parliament. Turkey says the emergency powers are needed to deal with the coup-plotters and thwart security threats.
The Council of Europe’s advisory body — known as the Venice Commission and made up of constitutional law experts — said it was “particularly worried” by the use of decrees to sack elected mayors and other municipal officials in Turkey’s mainly-Kurdish southeast over terror-related charges and to appoint unelected officials in their place.
The Commission said: “Local authorities are one of the main foundations of democratic society... Their election by the local population is key to ensuring the people’s participation in the political process.”
Among other things, the Commission called on Turkey to stop filling vacancies through appointments, to ensure that decisions affecting municipalities are taken after parliamentary debate and to introduce rules that would reinstate mayors if charges do not lead to a criminal conviction.
Opposition politicians say the government has used the state of emergency to crack down on critics.
More than 50,000 people have been arrested and some 110,000 others were sacked from government jobs in a large-scale crackdown on people with alleged links to terror groups or to US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of orchestrating the failed coup.


‘Deal reached to evacuate pro-regime Syria towns’

Syrian government forces and Syrian Arab Red Crescent oversee the evacuation by buses of opposition fighters and their families from the southern province of Daraa, Syria, in this July 15, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2018
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‘Deal reached to evacuate pro-regime Syria towns’

  • The deal provides for the total evacuation of residents in the two towns, which are besieged by the rebels
  • Airstrikes killed 14 civilians in Ain Al-Tina village on Quneitra’s border with Daraa

BEIRUT: Thousands of people will be evacuated from two besieged pro-regime towns in Syria in exchange for the release of prisoners held in regime’s jails, a monitor said on Tuesday.
Under a deal brokered by regime ally Russia and Turkey, Fuaa and Kafraya, the last besieged towns in the country, will be fully evacuated after three years of encirclement, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“The deal provides for the total evacuation of residents in the two towns, which are besieged by the rebels and Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, to regime territory in nearby Aleppo province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
“In exchange, hundreds of detainees will be released from regime prisons,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Syrian state media reported on Tuesday on preliminary information on a deal to free “thousands” of people in Fuaa and Kafraya.
Fuaa and Kafraya, the only two places in Syria currently designated as besieged by the UN, are home to an estimated 8,100 people, most of them Shiite Muslims.

15 civilians killed
Airstrikes on Tuesday killed more than a dozen civilians in parts of Syria’s south near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a war monitor said.
The regime has been pounding the southwestern province of Quneitra since Sunday in a bid to retake it from the opposition, after winning back most of the neighboring governorate of Daraa in less than a month.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said airstrikes killed 14 civilians in Ain Al-Tina village on Quneitra’s border with Daraa which had reportedly been taking shelter in a large building.
“They were all displaced from other areas. They included five children and three women,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Two bodies were so charred they were unrecognizable. It was not immediately clear whether the strikes were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally, the Britain-based monitor said.