- Highlights on Civil Society in European Commission 2018 Turkey Report
- Highlights on Civil Society in European Commission 2016 Progress Report
- Highlights on Civil Society in European Union’s 2013 Progress Report
- Highlights on Civil Society in European Union's 2014 Progress Report
- Highlights on Civil Society in European Union’s 2012 Progress Report
- Special Resolution on Freedom of Association and Assembly
- New Report on “Turkey: Openness and Transparency in Turkish Parliament and Civic Participation in Legislative Process”
- Highlights on Civil Society in Europeans Union’s 2009 Progress Report
- The Survey on the Freedom of Association is Closed
- February - June Updates: Preparation of Methodology for the Monitoring of Freedom of Association in Turkey Project
- Preparation of Methodology for the Monitoring of Freedom of Association in Turkey Project
- UNDP launches "Inclusive Civic Engagement in Legislation Making" Project
- Highlights on Civil Society in European Union’s 2008 Progress Report of Turkey
- TUSEV Conducts Workshops on Public Benefit and State-NGO Cooperation in Istanbul, Turkey
- Global Forum on Civil Society Law: A Great Success!
- Assessment of the Legal Framework Report
Highlights on Civil Society in European Commission 2018 Turkey Report
Highlights on Civil Society in European Union’s 2018 Turkey Report
Content Regarding Civil Society in Turkey
The following document does not reflect TUSEV’s opinions but includes the content relevant to civil society in Turkey in the European Commission Turkey 2018 Report.
2. FUNDAMENTALS FIRST: POLITICAL CRITERIA AND RULE OF LAW CHAPTERS
2.1. Functioning of democratic institutions and public administration reform
There has been serious backsliding regarding civil society as it came under increasing pressure, notably in the face of a large number of arrests of activists, including human rights defenders, and the recurrent use of bans of demonstrations and other types of gatherings, leading to a rapid shrinking of space for fundamental rights and freedoms. Many rights-based organisations remained closed as part of the measures under the state of emergency and they have not been offered any legal remedy in relation to confiscations. Despite this, civil society remained active and involved in public life as far as was possible. The map of civil society organisations has started to change significantly, with a more visible role given to the progovernment organisations. Administrative burdens, including for international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), continue to hamper civil society activities. Systematic and inclusive mechanisms for consulting a wide spectrum of civil society, notably on new legislation and policies, need to be put in place and used consistently.
An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and should be recognised and treated as such by the state institutions. Turkish civil society organisations (CSOs) continued to make crucial contributions on key challenges facing the country, notably in the areas of education, female workforce participation, awareness-raising regarding ethnic and social tolerance, and support for refugees. Many of the more than 23 000 CSOs in Turkey are dedicated to researching or advocating on political and social issues such as education, gender rights and environmental justice or to supporting refugees. There are a limited number of CSOs operating in the field of human rights.
Civil society continued to face increasing pressure, in particular following the high number of detentions and arrests of civil society activists and human rights defenders. Smear campaigns in some media outlets against some of these activists, including for accepting funds from international donors, became a recurrent feature and a matter of serious concern. Defamatory public rhetoric cast serious doubt on Turkey’s respect for due process and the presumption of innocence. International NGOs also faced difficulties in their work in Turkey, including those providing humanitarian aid to refugees. More than 1 400 associations were closed on the basis of emergency decrees. These associations were active in a wide spectrum of activities, such as children’s rights, women’s rights, cultural rights, and victims’ rights, among others. 358 were allowed to reopen following a re-examination of their case. While there has been no effective domestic remedy available in respect of confiscation of assets from CSOs closed by emergency decrees, it remains to be seen whether the State of Emergency Appeal Commission will become effective for the re-establishment of such entities.
Other barriers to civil society remain. Administrative burdens imposed on NGOs by the authorities are still in place. Some associations and foundations are subject to disproportionately long and repetitive audits. The legislation on freedom of association for national and foreign organisations and the implementation of this legislation should be brought in line with European standards. Provisions restricting registration, procedures for obtaining required permissions and the functioning of associations need to be revised to meet these standards, including to facilitate the work of international NGOs working with refugees in Turkey.
The EU-Turkey civil society dialogue programmes have so far involved approximately 900 Turkish CSOs together with their counterparts in the EU. These programmes support the development of civil society and enable greater recognition of CSOs at local level. However, there is no comprehensive government strategy in place in relation to cooperation with civil society. Independent rights-based CSOs are mostly excluded from consultations as part of law and policy-making processes and monitoring. Overall, the legal, financial and administrative environment needs to be more conducive to developing civil society, as there is still no coordination body for monitoring, no transparent mechanism for public funding and no appropriate fiscal incentives.
2.1.2 Public administration reform
Policy development and coordination
Legislation and policy formulation do not follow an inclusive and evidence-based policy development process. Draft policies and laws are not subject to public consultation, despite legal requirements. The legal requirement to produce medium-term cost estimates and fiscal impact assessments for draft policies and laws continues not to be respected. Regulatory impact assessments are a formal exercise and they are neither sent to Parliament nor published. The lack of uniform monitoring and reporting on implementation of key government programmes and sector work hinders effective public scrutiny of government work, especially as most reports are not made publicly available.
Public financial management
Turkey still does not have an overarching public financial management reform programme. Overall, fiscal discipline is ensured, despite the absence of an independent fiscal council. Budget transparency still needs to be further improved at various levels. Transparency of public investment programmes and state assets is weak. Participation by civil society in the budgetary process remains limited. Legislation to bring revolving funds into the budget process is progressing slowly.
Accountability of the administration
Internal and external oversight arrangements regarding the citizens’ right to good administration need to be better implemented. The role of oversight institutions such as the Ombudsman remained limited, in the absence of ex officio powers (see Governance). The rate at which oversight institutions’ recommendations are implemented is difficult to assess due to a lack of data collection.
Citizens' right to access public information is regulated by the law on the right to information, which does not require proactive disclosure of information and provides for broad exemptions on grounds of protecting state secrets, commercial secrets and personal data. A simplified online access system received about 1.5 million applications for access to information in 2017. The percentage of requests refused remained small (approximately 8 % in 2017, similar to 2016). The Board of Review of Access to Information is responsible for considering appeals filed against a refusal to provide access to public information. Filing an appeal is free of charge.
Strategic framework for public administration reform
Turkey has no overarching public administration reform strategy. There are various planning documents and sub-strategies relating to different aspects of public administration reform, but the lack of political support and administrative ownership hinders comprehensive reform efforts. An administrative unit with a legal mandate to coordinate, design, implement and monitor public administration reform needs to be set up. The financial sustainability of overall public administration reform is not guaranteed, as key planning documents do not specify the expected costs of reform measures.
2.2. Rule of law and fundamental rights
2.2.1 Chapter 23: Judiciary and fundamental rights
The legal framework includes general guarantees of respect for human and fundamental rights. However, these have been undermined by a number of emergency decrees and need to be effectively implemented. There was further serious backsliding in the areas of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and procedural and property rights. Severe restrictions were imposed on the activities of journalists, human rights defenders and critical voices on a broad scale. Measures adopted under the state of emergency also removed crucial safeguards protecting detainees from abuse, thereby augmenting the risk of impunity for the perpetrators of such abuse, in a context where allegations of ill-treatment and torture have increased. Enforcement of rights is hindered by the fragmentation and limited independence of public institutions responsible for protecting human rights and freedoms and by the lack of an independent judiciary.
Turkey is party to most international human rights instruments. It has yet to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Since the state of emergency was declared, there have been no developments on Turkey’s decision to invoke Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which gives governments the possibility to derogate in a temporary, limited and supervised manner from their obligation to secure certain rights and freedoms under the Convention in times of emergency.
Since September 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 163 cases (out of 168) relating mainly to the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, right to liberty and security among others. During the reporting period, 33 373 new applications were registered by the Court. On 1 February 2018, the total number of applications pending before the Court was 7 059. There are currently 478 cases against Turkey in the enhanced monitoring procedure.
On the promotion and enforcement of human rights, Turkey has two main institutions on human rights: the National Human Rights and Equality Institution (NHREI) and the Ombudsman institution. Both are authorised to monitor, protect and promote human rights, and to prevent violations in this area. They can also investigate individual complaints or allegations. The National Human Rights and Equality institution will provide an individual application mechanism for complaints in the field of alleged discrimination cases. The major difference with the individual application procedure of the Ombudsman Institution is that the latter deals only which complaints against the actions of the public administration. The NHREI also acts as the national preventive mechanism against torture and has the mandate to investigate ill-treatment and torture upon application or ex officio. It has also the power to launch investigations of its own initiative into potential human rights violations. Neither of these institutions has operational, structural or financial independence and their members are not appointed in compliance with the Paris Principles.
While the members of the NHREI were appointed in March 2017, and secondary legislation was laid down in November 2017 regarding its mandate on discrimination cases, it is not yet fully operational due to a lack of other key pieces of secondary legislation. As a result the NHREI has not yet handed down any decision on applications it started to receive and process. Moreover other types of alleged violations are currently not being investigated or followed up. This vacuum causes particular concern in light of the high number of alleged violations in the aftermath of the attempted coup. The NHREI can no longer accept applications that are in the remit of the Ombudsman. However, the efficiency and capacity of the Ombudsman to deal with such applications also need to be stepped up. Turkey should urgently ensure that any and all cases of alleged human rights violation are effectively dealt with and processed and put an end to the current legislative and administrative vacuum. Turkey should also ensure that these bodies are compliant with the Paris Principles.
There was limited implementation of and no revisions to the 2014 action plan on preventing violations of the ECHR. The implementation reports continue to be prepared but these are not made public, which limits the accountability of institutions responsible for implementation. Several legislative changes, not in line with European standards, were introduced by emergency decrees. These impinge in particular on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and on the rights to a fair trial, to an effective remedy and to protection of property.
During the reporting period, Parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry Committee visited prisons and published reports. The committee’s Chairperson followed up some key human rights defenders’ cases personally.
Conditions surrounding the activities of human rights defenders have deteriorated even further. Many of them continue to be subject to intimidation, judicial prosecution, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, prolonged arbitrary detention and ill-treatment. Smear campaigns in some media outlets against human rights defenders who have been detained or arrested, including for accepting funds by international donors, have become a recurrent feature, casting serious doubt on the respect for due process and the presumption of innocence. Lawyers who provide legal assistance to human rights defenders and civil and political activists also face huge obstacles in performing their work and are at risk of arrest, detention and prosecution. The arrest of the chairperson of Amnesty International Turkey branch, the detention of a group of ten human right defenders in Büyükada Island, including the director of Amnesty International Turkey on charges of links to a terrorist organisation, the arrest of the philanthropist and chairman of Anadolu Kültür, added to the long list of detentions and arrests of civil society representatives, journalists, academics and others over the reporting period, further eroding fundamental rights and freedoms and leading to a shrinking space for civil society. Long detention and pre-trial periods have become the norm rather than the exception. The public rhetoric and accusations used against these activists cast serious doubt on the respect of due process and the presumption of innocence.
Freedom of expression
Intimidation of journalists
Heavy pressure on the media continued, with arrests, detentions, prosecutions and dismissals of media staff, as well as increasing censorship and self-censorship. The number of journalists in prison is estimated by many sources to be over 150, as of March 2018. Civil society documented: threats and physical attacks on journalists and media organisations; government interference with editorial independence and pressure on media outlets to fire journalists critical of the government; the state’s takeover or the closure of private media companies; and restrictions on access to the airwaves, and fines and closure of TV and radio channels critical of the government.
The criminal justice system allowed journalists to be prosecuted and jailed on sweeping charges of terrorism, insulting public officials, and/or committing crimes against the state. The right to a fair trial and the respect of the principle of the presumption of innocence were often not ensured. Indictments mostly did not establish a link with the alleged offence and, in some high-profile cases, the defences provided by the defendants were not taken into consideration by the court. Details of prosecution files of journalists appeared in mainstream media which amplified smear campaigns against them. The judicial case against several Cumhuriyet journalists continued, and after the release pending trial of two more journalists in March 2018, the newspaper's chairman remains the sole suspect in pre-trial detention. A limited number of other writers and journalists have also belatedly been released pending trial. Several court rulings favourable to prominent defendants, including Human Rights Defenders (i.e. Chair of Amnesty International), were swiftly reversed by another or even by the same court, in some instances following comments from the executive.
Evidence relating to the charges brought against two prominent journalists was also examined by the Constitutional Court, which ruled on 11 January 2018 that the applicants’ right to personal liberty and security as well as their freedoms of expression and press had been violated and that they should be released. It was of serious concern that a lower court refused to observe the ruling and maintained them in pre-trial detention. One of them, together with five other journalists, writers and media workers were sentenced on 16 February 2018 to aggravated life sentences, on charges related to the July 2016 coup attempt, a ruling which was criticised by international watchdogs as ‘unprecedented’ and done ‘without presenting substantial proof of involvement in the coup attempt or ensuring a fair trial’. In the case of the other journalist, the Constitutional Court confirmed on 16 March 2018 its January ruling, following which a lower court accepted to release him but assigned him to house arrest. In its first judgments on 20 March 2018 regarding journalists arrested in the aftermath of the attempted coup, the European Court of Human Rights examined the applications of each of the two journalists and found that the Turkish authorities had violated their rights to liberty and security and their freedom of expression.
The editors of Turkey’s leading media outlets were summoned to a meeting in January 2018 at which the Prime Minister gave them 15 ‘recommendations’ on how to cover the military operations in a ‘patriotic’ manner. This and the detention of dozens of journalists, human rights activists and liberal professionals across Turkey for their social media activities in the days that followed, once again raised serious concerns about freedom of expression and freedom of press in Turkey.
The current legal framework and practice do not guarantee the exercise of freedom of expression in the media and internet. Legislation on anti-terrorism, on the internet and on intelligence services impede freedom of expression and run counter to European standards. The Criminal Code provides for prison sentences for insulting the President and senior politicians. Prison sentences are also provided for insults to religion. In addition to prison terms, high fines have a deterrent effect on media reporting. Legislation on hate speech is not in line with European Court of Human Rights case-law.
The Internet Law and the general legal framework enable the executive to block online content without a court order on an inappropriately wide range of grounds. In March 2018, amendments were adopted which raised new serious concerns, by extending the scope of the regulation of broadcasting performed by the Radio and Television Supreme Council to any online media service providers and platform operators, including those operating from abroad. The amendments also gave the Council the power to impose bans on internet broadcasting.
The government continued to issue emergency decrees ordering the closure of TV channels and radio stations, initially mainly for alleged links to the Gülen movement, but over time extending these to a number of channels broadcasting in the Kurdish language, an Alevi channel and some opposition channels. Although 25 media outlets were authorised to reopen, 175 media outlets remained closed down. The OSCE/ODIHR concluded that the constitutional referendum ‘took place on an unlevel playing field’ and that restrictions on the media reduced voters’ access to a plurality of views. The trend of prosecutions of journalists, writers, social media users and other citizens, even children, for insulting the President of Republic continued. Such cases often end with prison sentences, suspended sentences or punitive fines. The increased use of harsh rhetoric against any form of critical voice by public officials, including at the highest level, is of particular concern. This restrictive and intimidating environment leads to increased self-censorship and is not in line with the emerging European consensus on decriminalising defamation of heads of state, or limiting this offence to the most serious forms of verbal attacks, while restricting the range of sanctions to exclude imprisonment. Regarding the internet, Turkish access to Wikipedia has been blocked since April 2017. Twitter Transparency reported over 2700 removal requests and 9 200 accounts reported by Turkish authorities in the first half of 2017. According to unofficial sources, some 110 000 websites have been banned, only 2.6 % of which were on the basis of a court decision. In one case, the Constitutional Court ruled to reverse a local court’s decision to ban access to a news website. There have been a growing number of people sentenced to prison for blasphemy. Independent artists have also been negatively affected by pressure from authorities and reduced public funding. In many Kurdish municipalities, there was increased pressure from trustees appointed in place of elected officials on the production of art.
Disciplinary and criminal proceedings continued against the ‘Academics for Peace’, who signed a declaration in January 2016 condemning the security operations in the south-east and calling for resumption of the peace talks, while falling short of condemning the terrorist acts from the PKK. As of the end of January 2018, 386 out of the total of 5 822 academics expelled from 118 universities were among the ‘Academics for Peace’, Many of them are now facing criminal charges.
In 2017, 87 press cards, including 17 permanent ones, were cancelled.
There was further backsliding in the area of freedom of assembly and association. Legislation on this issue and its application are far more restrictive in practice than that provided for in the Constitution. In December 2017, the Constitutional Court abolished several restrictions on meetings and marches further to an application from an opposition party. However, the state of emergency expanded the administration’s powers to limit the right to peaceful assembly. Numerous peaceful meetings by opposition groups were banned and blanket bans were issued for weeks or months for all kinds of public events in several provinces. There was an increased number of penalties for participants in unauthorised events which acted as another deterrent. While a number of commemoration ceremonies and meetings were allowed, many events and demonstrations relating to the Kurdish issue were prohibited on security grounds. The unauthorised holding of such demonstrations at times resulted in forceful dispersal by the police forces. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) marches, including in Istanbul and Ankara, were banned for security reasons for the third year in a row. The applicable European Court of Human Rights case-law on freedom of assembly needs to be implemented and relevant national laws need to be revised accordingly. The number of associations closed on the basis of emergency decrees amounts to more than 1 400. These associations were active in a wide spectrum of activities, such as children’s rights, women’s rights, cultural rights, and victims’ rights, among others. 358 were allowed to reopen following a re-examination of their case. The executive sharply criticised the Turkish Union of Bar Associations and the Turkish Medical Association for acting against the national interest by failing to support the government's struggle against terrorism. There was mention of amendments to the legislation to reform their statuses which are a source of serious concern.
On property rights, confiscations under the state of emergency of property of many institutions, companies or private individuals, for which there is no domestic remedy, continue to be a serious concern. In the south-east, the authorities have started a reconstruction process in a number of cities and towns. Appeals against expropriation decisions for large parts of the historical centre of Diyarbakır were rejected in the court of first instance. Regarding the implementation of the Law on Foundations, most of the appeals against rejected claims for restitution of properties are pending either before local courts or at the European Court of Human Rights. Earlier favourable decisions have been challenged by the Treasury and are awaiting final judgments. The case in relation to the ownership of the Syriac Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery’s land is ongoing. After a number of Syriac properties had momentarily been at risk of expropriation in Mardin, amendments to the Law on Foundations were introduced in March 2018 as a first step towards the registration to the Syriac community foundations of a list of 56 properties in Mardin, out of over 110 disputed immovables. The Council of Europe’s recommendations on protecting property rights and education rights still need to be fully implemented. Council of Europe Resolution 1625 (2008) regarding property rights on the islands of Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) needs to be fully implemented.
The principle of non-discrimination is not sufficiently protected by law nor enforced in practice. The National Human Rights and Equality institution which is in charge of applying anti-discrimination legislation has not yet finalised any of the cases it has started to process. This should happen without delay. Hate crime legislation is not in line with international standards and does not cover hate offences based on sexual orientation. Turkey signed the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems in April 2016, but ratification is still pending. Turkey should urgently adopt a law on combating discrimination in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, including with regards to sexual orientation and identity. Turkey should also ratify Protocol 12 of the Convention, which provides for the general prohibition of discrimination, and implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.
A legislative and institutional framework on equality between women and men is generally in place. However, discrimination against women and gender-based violence were not sufficiently addressed, due to weak implementation of legislation and the low quality of support services available. There is a lack of strong political commitment to gender equality, exemplified by frequent public statements of high-level officials reflecting a conservative view of the role of women. School enrolment for girls needs to improve, especially in secondary education. Early and forced marriage continued to be a major concern. 11 independent women’s NGOs were closed down under the state of emergency and, in some provinces, events on International Women’s Day were banned. Provincial and district muftis were given powers to conduct civil marriages which undermined the secular principles of the civil code and risked affecting the prevention of early and forced marriages. While it was the first country to ratify, in 2014, the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, Turkey has still not adapted its legislation but adopted a action plan for 2016-2020 and started to raise awareness on this topic. Domestic violence led to the death of 282 women in 2017. There is very limited follow-up to cases of domestic violence, with no referral to social services. Violence Prevention and Monitoring Centres are in service in 68 provinces as of January 2018.There are 137 shelters for victims of domestic violence but some were closed down in the south-east. There is no comprehensive data on gender-based violence and the number of reported cases remained low, casting doubt on the level of reporting.
There was little progress on the rights of the child. Implementation of the 2013 national children’s rights strategy and action plan remained insufficient. No national strategy is in place to prevent violence against children. An effective system to monitor rehabilitation centres and institutions is also lacking. Research on sexual abuse and ill-treatment of children is inadequate. The proportion of religious education has been increasing and represents a significant proportion of the education budget. Juvenile courts have not been established in all provinces and more than half of juvenile offenders continue to be tried in non-specialised courts. The number of children in pre-trial detention increased to 1 746. 130 juveniles continued to be detained or were convicted on charges of terror or organised crime. The quality of legal aid for juveniles and rehabilitation activities in prisons is a matter of concern. Several CSOs dealing with juvenile rights were closed down by the authorities.
On the rights of people with disabilities, Turkey has legislation in place to promote equal opportunities for students with special educational needs and the number of students receiving inclusive education is increasing steadily. A large-scale financial support scheme for homebased care is also in place. However, there are discriminatory clauses in several laws such as the Criminal Code, the Civil Code and the Law on Judges and Prosecutors. The Human Rights and Equality Institution needs to become effective in dealing with discrimination on the basis of disability. Most public services and buildings are inaccessible for people with disabilities. Public awareness campaigns need to be stepped up. Turkey also lacks data on the participation of people with disabilities in economic and social life. Turkey has no mental health legislation and no independent body to monitor mental health institutions.
There are serious concerns on the protection of the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. No changes have been introduced to the military disciplinary system and medical regulations which define homosexuality as a ‘psychosexual disorder/illness’. For the third year in a row, LGBTI marches were banned for security reasons. Activists have been sued for ‘participating in an unauthorised demonstration’. LGBTI-themed events were forbidden in Ankara and other cities causing an international outcry. The detention and release under judicial control of an activist following his social media posts regarding Ankara governor’s ban on LGBTI events for an indefinite period is testimony of the pressure exercised against activists in this field. In February 2018, an Administrative Court rejected the request of two NGOs' to lift the execution of this ban. Intimidation and violence against the LGBTI community continues to be a major problem and hate speech against LGBTI people is not effectively prosecuted, as it is mostly considered within the boundaries of freedom of speech. There is no specific legislation to address these crimes. There is limited protection given to LGBTI organisations who have been receiving threats. Discrimination towards the LGBTI community is still widespread.
Discussions between the government and representatives of minorities continued. However, hate speech and threats directed against minorities remained a serious problem. A civil society survey on hate speech in the media revealed that articles/news targeting national, ethnic and religious groups increased during the reporting period. Anti-Semitic rhetoric in the media and by public officials continued. School textbooks need to be revised to delete remnants of discriminatory references. State subsidies for minority schools declined. The main case launched in connection with the assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 continued. In February 2018, the Court of Cassation accepted the case filed by Armenian Patriarchate regarding the restitution of the Sanasaryan Han, an education centre which was seized by the state. With this decision, the legal personality of the Patriarchate of the Armenians of Turkey has been de jure recognised for the first time. A Greek minority preschool opened in Gökçeada (Imvros) in 2017.
The national strategy (2016-2021) and action plan (2016-2018) for Roma citizens is being implemented but the committee for monitoring and evaluating the strategy only met once, in February 2017 The strategy needs to be supported by sufficient budget allocation, measureable indicators and time-bound targets. In addition, the monitoring system needs to be strengthened and all stakeholders need to be included in the consultation processes.
On cultural rights, the government has not legalised the provision of public services in languages other than Turkish. Legal restrictions on mother tongue education in primary and secondary schools remained. Optional courses in Kurdish continued in public state schools, as did university programmes in Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac and Zaza. Some university lecturers on the Kurdish language and literature were dismissed by an emergency decree in January 2017, adding to the lack of qualified lecturers in Kurdish. According to civil society organisations, numerous theatres, libraries, cultural and art centres were closed down as a result of this decree. On a positive note, children’s channel Zarok TV, which had been shut down following the attempted coup, began broadcasting again in December 2016. However, in 2017 another TV channel broadcasting in Kurdish was dropped from the state-owned satellite TÜRKSAT and two more Kurdish-language news outlets were closed down (see Chapter 10: Information society and media). Several commemorative and literary monuments marking important Kurdish personalities as well as two Assyrian sculptures were removed by authorities in the south-east. Some Kurdish festivals were prohibited on security grounds.
2.2.2 Chapter 24: Justice, freedom and security
Legal and irregular migration
Throughout 2017, the Migration Policies Board met four times. Convening the Migration Advisory board – a mechanism established by the Law to support DGMM - with the participation of academia and rights-based civil society organizations working in the field would promote dialogue between the government and civil society on migration management and also support migration policy development. Not all regulations issued with respect to the implementation of the Law on Foreigners are made public and there is a lack of public awareness about legislation related to migration, including emergency decrees and regulations.
5.27. Chapter 27: Environment and climate change
Turkey has reached some level of preparation in the area of horizontal legislation. Alignment with the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive was completed in 2017, with a transition period in several sectors from 2020 to 2023. Implementation of the Directive on Infrastructure for Spatial Information is still at an early stage. Civil society remains critical of the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the application of the rule of law in court decisions on environmental issues, the respect for public participation and the right to environmental information. Turkey is still not a party to the Aarhus Convention. The 2016 law that waived licensing and other restrictions for strategically important investment projects remains a concern in terms of complying with the acquis. Procedures for transboundary consultations have not yet been aligned with the acquis.
ANNEX I – RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EU AND TURKEY
Regarding financial assistance, in 2017, the Commission further reoriented funding towards the rule of law, fundamental rights and civil society and recentralised the management of support to civil society. The annual programme for 2017 with EUR 123.1 million of EU contribution is designed to support activities on fundamental rights and co-finance Turkey's participation in Union programmes and agencies in order to continue to enhance people-topeople contacts between Turkey and the European Union. Support to civil society, amounting to EUR 18 million will be implemented as part of the Civil Society Facility and Media programme 2016-2017. The multi-annual action programmes on Environment and climate action, Education, employment and social policies, Competitiveness and innovation and Transport have been amended to provide for an additional EU allocation of EUR 221.5 million for 2017. Furthermore, the Commission has reviewed the performance of Turkey in implementing effectively pre-accession funds as part of the IPA II mid-term performance review for the years 2018-2020. In light of the backsliding in the areas of rule of law and fundamental rights, as well as on public administration reform, two of the enlargement policy fundamentals, as well as because of the poor absorption capacity, the Commission has proposed to significantly reduce the 2018-2020 allocations for Turkey and to further reoriente funding towards civil society and democracy and the rule of law.