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MEDEL Statement on President of ECHR Robert Spano’s visit to Turkey


Upon invitation of Turkey's Minister of Justice, the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Robert Spano, made an official visit to Turkey on 3rd September 2020, where he received an honorary doctorate from the Istanbul University. During his visit, he gave a speech at the Turkish Judicial Academy, had a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and also met and took pictures with other AKP executives.

MEDEL sees with great concern the fact that the President of the ECHR accepted an honorary doctorate from one of the academic institutions that since the failed coup d’état of July 2016 have dismissed more than 5.000 academics, without any due process or guarantees.

President Spano must be aware:  

- of the fact that Judiciary in Turkey is no longer independent and that the Turkish High Council for the Judiciary has been suspended by the ENCJ;

- of the dramatic situation of the thousands of judges and prosecutors that since 2016 have been persecuted, dismissed and deprived of their property and right to effective justice and fair trial;

- that Murat Arslan, president of the free association of Judges YARSAV, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a process that has not met any requirements of a due process of law, has been awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe the Vaclav Havel Prize for Human Rights, because of his continuous and courageous fight for an independent judiciary in Turkey.

Despite knowing all this, President Spano accepted the invitation of the Minister of Justice of the government that has carried out the dismantlement of the judiciary in Turkey and accepted to be photographed with ruling party officials.

MEDEL is sure that the ECHR, while deciding long pending cases of Turkish judges and prosecutors, will be driven by the words from President’s Spano speech at the judicial academy in Ankara: “The principle of the rule of law is an empty vessel without independent courts embedded within a democratic structure which protects and preserves fundamental rights.”


Firenze, Italy, September 19th, 2020

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