Kaftancıoğlu ruling judicial harassment, say PACE Turkey monitors

Turkey’s Court of Cassation upholding a nearly five year sentence against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu has been dismaying and constitutes harassment of an opposition figure, said Turkey rapporteurs for the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in a statement on Friday.

The four year 11 month prison sentence “illustrates yet another case of judicial harassment against members of the opposition - and in this case, against a prominent female politician,” PACE rapporteurs John Howell and Boriss Cilevics said.

Kaftancıoğlu was convicted of insulting the Turkish state and president, terrorist propaganda, and inciting hatred and propaganda, over tweets she posted eight years ago.

Such a blow to Turkey’s democracy is “all the more worrying” ahead of Turkey’s elections in 2023, when the country will both celebrate its centenary and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s two decade long rule will face a serious challenge.

“Canan Kaftancıoğlu's place is in the political arena, not in prison,” the monitors said and called on Turkish authorities to end undemocratic practices.

Some provisions in Turkey’s penal code lead to “abusive judicial procedures aimed at silencing critical voices and dissenting opinions”, they continued.

Kaftancıoğlu has been targeted in numerous lawsuits after her key role in the CHP’s victory in the 2019 local elections when the secular centre-left party won both Istanbul and Ankara after more than two decades of conservative mayors.

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