Turkey, Kosovo undermined due process in extraditions – EU

The European Union has issued a statement saying that the extradition of six Turkish citizens from Kosovo by the Turkish intelligence service undermined due process by disregarding their right to a fair trial.

The six – five educators and one cardiologist – stand accused of membership of the Gülen movement, a religious sect that Turkey says was responsible for a failed July 2016 coup attempt.

“The arrest and subsequent deportation of six Turkish nationals legally residing in Kosovo raises questions about the respect of the due process of law,” EU spokesperson Maja Jocijancic said in a statement.

“The rule of law is a fundamental principal of the European Union.”

Turkey is an official candidate for EU membership, while Kosovo has signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the bloc promising to address institutional concerns including rule of law issues as a preliminary step to candidate status.

“In line with its determination to build a free and democratic future, and as also set out in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union, all actions of the local Kosovo institutions are bound by the full respect for the rule of law and promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Jocijancic said.

“Arbitrary procedures concerning arrest, detention or exile go against these principles.”,

Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi, publicly endorsed the extradition, but Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj condemned the operation on his country’s soil, firing his interior minister and head of intelligence, who had collaborated on the mission.

“Depending on how the details emerge, this might be the most flagrant case that’s happened in Europe,” said Nate Schenkkan, project director for Freedom House’s Nations in Transit program.

It was “a shocking offence against both international human rights standards and bilateral norms,” he said.

Turkey was also in breach of its obligations to the European Union and Council of Europe by ordering the mission, Jocijancic said.

“As for Turkey, while we understand the need to bring the culprits of the coup attempt of 15 July to justice, any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process and well established international norms when seeking extradition,” she said.

“The right of every individual to fair trial needs to be fully respected. As a European Union candidate country and a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has subscribed to these principles.”