Turkey should drop ‘disproportionate’ emergency powers: EU parliament

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to members of his ruling party at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)
Updated 09 February 2018
0

Turkey should drop ‘disproportionate’ emergency powers: EU parliament

STRASBOURG:The European parliament on Thursday called on Turkey to scrap the emergency powers which members said were being used to stifle “legitimate and peaceful opposition” and a free press.
Meeting in Strasbourg the MEPs denounced, in a resolution, the hundreds of arrests by the Turkish government, which they said were being carried out “in an attempt to censor criticism over its military assault” in the Syrian town of Afrin.
The assembled deputies criticized the “deterioration of freedoms and fundamental rights and the rule of law in Turkey.”
According to the parliament, the state of emergency in place since a failed coup in 2016 is “being used to further stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition.”
Since then, more than 160 media outlets have closed and Turkey’s civil society faces a massive crackdown, the MEPs agreed, by a show of hands.
EU funds destined for Turkey should be conditional on Ankara improving its record on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, they added.
The parliament also condemned the recent arrests of journalists, activists, doctors and ordinary citizens for expressing their opinions.
Turkey on January 20 began a major operation aimed at ousting fighters from the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) from their enclave in the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin.
At least 68 civilians have been killed in the offensive according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkey has strongly rejected any civilian casualties, saying that its military is showing utmost care not to harm any civilians in the Afrin region.
The Turkish foreign ministry described the EU parliamentary resolution as “nothing but a patchwork of ungrounded claims compiled... just for the sake of criticism.”
The emergency measures are still needed “to fully eliminate the threats against the existence of our state and our nation’s right to democratic life,” the ministry insisted.
On Tuesday EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini also denounced the continuation of Turkey’s emergency measures and Ankara’s military action in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet top European Union officials next month in the Bulgarian city of Varna, officials said Tuesday, in a bid to repair strained ties.
Relations between the EU and Turkey have taken a nosedive since the July 2016 failed coup as well as Brussels’ continued objections to Ankara’s crackdown. Over 140,000 people have been suspended or sacked over alleged links to coup-plotters.
Turkey’s EU membership talks that officially began in 2005 have stalled since the coup bid, to the chagrin of Erdogan who previously said the wait was “exhausting.”
maj/agr/pvh/pg


Philippine government to strengthen pre-departure program for Kuwait-bound OFWs

Updated 45 min 21 sec ago
0

Philippine government to strengthen pre-departure program for Kuwait-bound OFWs

DUBAI: The Philippine government is strengthening its pre-departure information and education program for Filipino workers bound for Kuwait, a senior labor official said on Thursday.
“[The latest government effort] should ensure that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) [bound to Kuwait] know their rights and responsibilities,” Hans Leo J. Cacdac, administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) told Arab News.
An estimated 262,000 Filipinos are currently deployed in Kuwait, most of them employed as household service workers. There are about 10 million OFWs spread in 170 countries, with one million in Saudi Arabia alone, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong and Qatar, among others.
“We are also boosting our personnel complement in POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) Kuwait, through augmentation personnel and more regular plantilla personnel,” Cacdac said.
Labor and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani earlier commented that the labor situation in Kuwait, where there was high incidence of abuse and deaths specially among household workers, was partly to due a lack of welfare officers to monitor OFWs’ situation.
President Rodrigo Duterte in February imposed a ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait, after being angered with the reports of abuse including the death of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was dumped in a freezer in an abandoned apartment.
“There were many complaints that abuse cases lodged before labor officials in Kuwait were not being acted upon. This may have eventually led to the unfortunate ‘rescue videos’ incident,” Geslani. “But generally, employers are willing to give up their employees especially if there is coordination with Kuwait police.”
Philippine-Kuwaiti diplomatic and labor relations hit their lowest last month, with the Filipino ambassador expelled and some embassy officials arrested, when videos of supposed rescue of distressed OFWs went viral and angered the Gulf nation for affronting its sovereignty.
Both countries, however, earlier this month signed an agreement that will further protect Filipino workers in the Gulf nation particularly household services workers, who can now keep their passports – or by embassy personnel – and also own mobiles phones aside from having a day off once a week. The Philippine government lifted the deployment ban to Kuwait last week.
“We will be part of the POLO team that will monitor compliance with the MOA, particularly in the area of welfare and protection of OFWs,” Cacdac said.