President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to bolster Turkey’s judicial and economic system while initiating the “human rights action plan” to protect freedom of expression.
Turkey’s government plans to strengthen civil liberties after criticism from Western allies over erosion and suppression of human rights.
Erdogan’s pledge to improve the country’s troubled record on human rights come ahead of a key meeting over the country’s EU accession hopes.
Erdogan outlined several new measures centering around several areas, with focus on the speeding up of trial proceedings and observation of human rights condition in prisons and easing the professional activities of journalists.
“Our aim is to strengthen even more the concept of a state of law based on human rights. We will regularly review legislation and implementation accordingly and will take all necessary precautions. Thereby, we are speeding up talks with the European Union, especially on issues that we expect to encounter in the visa liberalization dialogue,” the Turkey president said.
The Turkish president also spoke about improved press freedoms and freedom of expression in Turkey, which would guarantee minorities the right to take paid leave during non-Muslim holidays.
In order to curb violence against women, special investigation bureaus will be established, which will investigate violent crimes against women. The plan also ensures law-enforcement officials are trained in observing human rights.
The measures would be implemented in the next two years and Erdogan said that his government’s ultimate goal would be to draft a new constitution.
Human rights violations have been a key obstacle to Turkey’s ongoing attempts to join the bloc, with negotiations taking place on a stop-start basis since a meeting of the European Council in Copenhagen in 2002.
The bloc’s leaders will meet this month to review its relationship with Ankara, which has been further strained by a dispute over Turkish drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.