European magistrates call for release of thousands of judges, prosecutors detained by Turkey

The MEDEL Association of European Magistrates for Democracy and Freedoms has urged NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to demand Turkey to free the judges and prosecutors “who were arrested without due process and in violation of the basic rule of law principles.”

In a press statement released on Monday, the National Union of Romania’s Judges (UNJR) says MEDEL sent a letter to Stoltenberg on July 22 after more than 2,700 judges and prosecutors were dismissed from office and arrested by the Turkish Government on the night of July 16, in the aftermath of a failed coup d’etat.

The European magistrates quotes the Turkish ambassador to Romania, Osman Koray Ertas as revealing in an interview that “the fault of these magistrates, who were deposed from the bench in the middle of the night and detained, is that they allegedly shared a belief that is not accepted by the government.”

He also revealed that since 2014 the Turkish Government, using secret intelligence agencies, worked laboriously to identify in each institution people who shared that belief. “Obviously, our intelligence were doing the major job there,” ambassador Ertas said.

“It is shocking to find out that, in a NATO member country, a quarter of the judges in Turkey were deposed in the middle of the night based on ‘investigations’ conducted by intelligence agencies, and without being yet tried and convicted of doing anything illegally,” reads the letter.

“We took note of the statement you have made on July 18, 2016, when you said that ‘being part of a unique community of values, it is essential for Turkey, like all other Allies, to ensure full respect for democracy and its institutions, the constitutional order, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms’.”

According to MEDEL, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed to embrace the same principles, since he signed the common NATO declaration in Warsaw, on 9 July 2016, which, among other things, stated: “We stand together, and act together, to ensure the defence of our territory and populations, and of our common values. United by our enduring transatlantic bond, and our commitment to democracy, individual liberty, human rights and the rule of law, NATO will continue to strive for peace, security and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area, in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter.”

In the light of the principles stated by the Warsaw NATO Summit,” No democracy, individual liberty, respect for human rights or rule of law can exist if the judges are arbitrarily deposed from the bench and detained,” according to the European magistrates.

“We urge you, therefore, as NATO Secretary-General, to call Turkey to respect the democratic principles it agreed in Warsaw, to release the judges and prosecutors arbitrarily detained, and to return the country to its democratic course, which is the only one that can bring peace and prosperity for the Turkish people,” reads the MEDEL letter.

The Association of European Magistrates for Democracy and Freedoms, known by its French acronym MEDEL, is an organisation of European judges and prosecutors created with the main purpose to defend the independence of judiciary, democracy and the human rights. The organisation has 22 national associations from 15 European countries, including Turkey.

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