Harry Hummer, senior policy adviser, Netherlands Helsinki Committee
'The visit of European Court of Human Rights president Robert Spano to Turkey today and tomorrow is big news in the country. Human rights defenders and victims of repression are concerned that he is given an honorary doctorate by one of the universities that summarily fired for political reasons a large number of academics after the July 2016 coup attempt. This issue has not been taken up by the Court yet – complaints have been referred back to a widely criticized Turkish appeal procedure – but in all likelihood will be in future.
The IHD, one of the oldest Turkish human rights NGOs, issued an open letter to Spano, expressing surprise that they had heard about the visit only from media reports and wondering why there are no civil society visits included in his programme.
In addition to the honorary doctorate ceremony, Spano also spoke with high level Turkish government and judicial officials, and gave a speech at the Justice Academy.'