Congress of Local and Regional Authorities – Release Leyla Güven
Strasbourg July 03 2014 –
Congress pleased by release of Leyla Güven and the other elected representatives detained in Turkey
“Leyla Güven and 30 local elected representatives held in Diyarbakir have just been released. After over four years of detention for Leyla Güven, the judge in Diyarbakir Court has just taken a decision that does credit to Turkey”, said the rapporteurs on local and regional democracy in Turkey, Anders Knape, Sweden (L, EPP/CCE), and Leen Verbeek, Netherlands (R, SOC).
For the Congress, the case of Leyla Güven has always been symbolic of the situation of all the local elected representatives detained in Turkey.
“For the Congress, which has been calling for Leyla Güven’s release since her first day in detention, it is a great relief. We are delighted for Leyla and for her family and friends, who are being reunited with her at last after so many years of suffering. We realise that the decision is still shaky. It does not end the judicial procedure and, as rapporteurs on local democracy in Turkey, we will continue with the Congress to keep a very close eye on the situation of Leyla Güven and the other elected representatives being detained”, they concluded.
At its meeting on 20 October 2011, the Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe expressed its grave concern about the continued massive detention of local elected politicians in Turkey, including Mayor of Viransehir and former Congress member Leyla Güven, incarcerated since 2009.
Acting on the report of the Congress delegation that visited Ms Güven in prison on 6 October 2011, the Bureau reiterated its position that the prolonged detention of a large number of mayors and city councilors, who are prevented from fulfilling their duties to the citizens, is debilitating for local democracy.
The Bureau called on several bodies of the Council of Europe to address this situation, asking the President of the Congress in particular:
– to invite the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to look into the issue in the light of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);
– to invite the Venice Commission to examine the question of the use of languages other than Turkish in its constitutional assistance to Turkey;
– and to invite the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) to examine the detention conditions of Ms Güven.
The Bureau also asked the Congress’ own Monitoring Committee to look closely into the massive detention of local elected politicians in the light of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It insisted that it is alarming and not in the spirit of the Charter, which Turkey has ratified, that the seats of local elected representatives remain vacant for such long periods of time.