In a message sent to the president of the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil, justice Gilmar Mendes, the president of the Venice Commission, Gianni Buquicchio, vehemently condemned the attempted coup d’etat in Turkey that took place last weekend. According to Buquicchio, any changes in the government must follow the democratic ways and “it is essential to respect the law”.
As to the imprisonment of two Turkish Constitutional Court judges and five members of the Superior Council of Magistracy of that country, alongside with the removal of 2,700 judges, the president of the Venice Commission highlighted that this is not an acceptable way to restore democracy. “As any citizen, each judge has the right of a fair judgment – disciplinary or criminal – during which responsibilities must be dully proven and the defense rights must be respected”
Justice Gilmar Mendes is a permanent Brazilian representative in the Venice Commission, which is the consultative branch of the Europe Council on constitutional matters. Created in 1990 from the agreement of the 18 members of the Council, since 2002 the Venice Commission permits memberships of non-European States. Today the Venice Commission counts 58 State-members, and Brazil joined in 2008.
Initially conceived as a emergency mission dedicated to the new democracies of Eastern Europe after communism, today the Commission is recognized as an independent and qualified forum on legal matters. It also has an important role in crisis management and conflict prevention through the counseling in constitutional subjects.
The Brazilian accession was an initiative of its Supreme Federal Tribunal, institution that the Venice Commission first contacted in the frame of the cooperation with the Ibero-American Conference on Constitutional Justice, of which the Supreme Federal Tribunal is one of the founding members. With its admission, Brazil became the 56th State-member of the Venice Commission.
Last Monday (18th), justice Gilmar Mendes released a press statement repudiating the events in Turkey:
The arrest of judges highly compromises the rule of law and deserves the reproof of all. It is a serious threat and, therefore, the Brazilian Electoral Justice will request actions to be taken by the Venice Commission, European Commission for the Democracy through Law, and the International Institute for the Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).The Brazilian Electoral Justice fights for freedom of speech and repudiates arrests without individualization of conduct or without evidences.As the largest democracy in Latin America, counting over 202 million inhabitants, Brazil is called for a firm statement regarding these serious facts, that threaten the rights of the Turkish citizens.
Read the note of the President of the Venice Commission:
“I strongly condemn the attempted coup d’état in Turkey; any changes in the government must follow democratic channels. Turkish media report that, since the failed coup, two judges of the Constitutional Court and five members of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors have been arrested. More than 2700 judges have been suspended and many have been detained. Especially in reacting to a violent attempt to overthrow an elected government, it is essential to respect the rule of law. Mass dismissals and arrests of judges are not an acceptable means to restore democracy. Like any citizen, each judge has the right to a fair procedure - disciplinary and/or criminal - during which his or her responsibility must be duly proved and his or her defence rights must be respected.”