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Jagland says jailed journalists and MPs are priority for Council of Europe

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland.

Thorbjørn Jagland, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, in reference to arrests in Turkey, has said journalists and members of Parliament are priorities for the Council of Europe.

Jagland’s remarks came in response to a question by pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Chairperson Filiz Kerestecioğlu.

Kerestecioğlu asked Jagland on the first day of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) summer session on Wednesday if any steps had been taken concerning jailed members of the Turkish Parliament.

In response to Kerestecioğlu’s question, Jagland said: “We are aware that there have been many appeals to the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR] on this first issue. The court has launched initiatives for the journalists. Of course, I can’t speak about the legal procedure for the deputies, but members of parliament and journalists are priority groups for the Council of Europe.”

Hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 11 HDP and one deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) are behind bars on terror charges in Turkey.

According to an April report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), a Stockholm-based monitoring and rights advocacy group, there are a total of 228 jailed journalists in Turkey.

Kerestecioğlu also asked Jagland his opinion about reports by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) that were banned in the relevant countries.

Referring to the efforts launched by the ECtHR for the journalists and the significance of CPT reports calling for their accessibility, Jagland said: “Our fundamental view is that the reports should be accessible. As you know, the CPT’s founding principles that constitute the basis of their activity say the publishing of the reports are subject to relevant countries’ approval. But I for one am always on the side of transparency. I believe it is a positive thing that the CPT builds a relationship based on trust with countries before the reports are published, but of course it is important for the reports to be published.”

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