Kox: restricting democracy gives terrorists what they want

31 March 2017

Kox: restricting democracy gives terrorists what they want

At the international terrorism conference in St Petersburg this week, which SP Senator Tiny Kox attended in his capacity as president of the United Left Group of members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), he warned those present not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. "In far too many countries," Kox argued, "antiterrorism legislation comes at the cost of human rights, the constitutional state, and democratic institutions. That goes for a great many former Soviet Republics but also for a country such as France, where the state of emergency has been repeatedly renewed, in contravention of a PACE resolution proposed by myself and approved by the assembly a year ago." 

In Turkey, following a failed coup and a number of terrorist attacks, tens of thousands of people have been fired from their jobs, many media outlets have been closed and thousands of men and women sent to prison, amongst whom are numerous journalists and politicians. "Eleven of my fellow parliamentarians, MPs from the left-wing HDP, the country's third party, have been behind bars since November," Kox says "I was very pleased that SP Member of Parliament  Sadet Karabulut's resolution calling on the Dutch government to take action against this received almost unanimous support. And I was equally pleased to see that, despite heavy pressure from the Turkish government, PACE will next month in Strasbourg debate the question of the functioning of Turkish democratic institutions. Colleagues from the HDP, which is affiliated to the group which I chair, the United European Left, are also pleased about this. In Strasbourg they can express themselves freely, due to the parliamentary immunity which the Council of Europe guarantees them. In Turkey this immunity is removed and virtually every political statement criticising  President Erdogan and his government is branded 'support for a terrorist movement'." It would be good, Kox told delegates in St Petersburg,to  monitor how Turkish antiterrorism stands in relation to the country's obligations regarding human rights and democracy.

Participants in the conference included the speakers of the parliaments of nine former Soviet Republics, including the Russian Duma and the Russian Senate. Alongside them were a large number of MPs representing the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe and representatives of the United Nations.

Not everyone was pleased by Senator Kox's critical comments. Many Members of Parliament prefer to close their eyes to the imbalance between the fight against terrorism on the one hand and the defence of human rights on the other. Yet, as Kox argues "if you want to protect our societies, you must not, above all, restrict our democratic institutions. That would be to give the terrorists just what they want."

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