Yesterday, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert directly addressed the continued detention of Amnesty Turkey’s Chair Taner Kilic, and the deterioration of the rule of law in the country.
The United States is deeply troubled by the February 1 rearrest by Turkish authorities of the Amnesty International Turkey chairman, Taner Kilic. He’s been in pretrial detention since June of 2017. We’re closely following his case along with those against other respected human rights defenders, journalists, civil society leaders, and opposition politicians whose ongoing prosecution under the state of emergency has chilled freedom of expression and raises serious concerns about respect for judicial independence and the due process protections enshrined in the Turkish constitution.
We call on the Turkish Government to end the protracted state of emergency, to release those detained arbitrarily under the emergency authorities, and to safeguard the rule of law consistent with Turkey’s own domestic and international obligations and commitments.
The State Department is just the latest in a series of statements by branches and members of the United States government to condemn Taner’s prosecution and detention. In response to Taner’s re-arrest, the US Helsinki Commission, an independent government agency which promotes human rights, military and economic cooperation in the 57 nations which make up the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (which includes Turkey) re issued it’s letter from October, which called for
…the timely, transparent, and fair adjudication of the [cases of Taner and the Istanbul 10], lift the state of emergency and immediately restore Turkey’s commitment to international standards of due process and judicial independence.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee called Taner’s detention “illegal” and noted that it is “yet another example of the erosion of democracy in Turkey.”
The re-arrest of Taner Kilic, @Amnesty’s #Turkey representative, illustrates just how strong Erdogan’s grip on the country is. #Democracy cannot thrive if the justice system remains beholden to the executive.
— House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats (@HFACDemocrats) February 1, 2018
Another Congressional Committee, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, tweeted that by keeping Taner in jail, Turkey’s government is “undermin[ing] basic human rights and rule of law.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire issued the harshest criticism.
Concerned for the thousands unjustly jailed across Turkey, including Taner Kilic, head of Amnesty International in Turkey. He’s being held without a shred of evidence. His recent release & re-arrest is cruel & further highlights the lack of due process
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) February 2, 2018
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will visit Turkey next week are expected to address the current tension between the two countries, particularly the ongoing situation in northern Syria. State Department Spokesperson Nauert confirmed that Tillerson would bring up the concerns articulated in this latest briefing while in Turkey.