Lantos Commission – Turkey Post-Referendum: Institutions and Human Rights

This is a public event hosted by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. No RSVP is necessary.

May 2, 2017

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

2255 Rayburn House Office Building

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission) for a briefing on post-referendum Turkey, its changing institutions, and the effect on human rights.

Human rights abuses by the Turkish government have proliferated under the state-sanctioned emergency measures imposed in the aftermath of the July 2016 failed coup attempt.  Turkish authorities have fired as many as 130,000 public workers, including teachers, academics, police officers, and soldiers, and thousands have been arrested. Hundreds of journalists have had their credentials revoked and dozens of media outlets have been shut down. Human rights groups have documented widespread reports of intimidation, ill-treatment and torture of those in police custody.

On April 16, 2017, Turkey held a referendum on a package of amendments that transforms the country’s institutions in major ways. The position of prime minister was eliminated and the executive powers of the president were expanded, enabling him to appoint ministers without parliamentary approval, exert more influence over the judiciary, and call early elections. Coming on top of the post-coup crackdown, how will Turkey’s changing institutions affect human rights in the country?

Panelists will discuss how U.S. policy makers can most effectively encourage the protection of human rights to promote the interests of the Turkish people given the strategic importance of the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship.


  • Beata Martin-Rozumilowicz, Regional Director, Europe and Eurasia, International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • Henri Barkey, Director, Middle East Program, Wilson Center
  • Nate Schenkkan, Project Director, Nations in Transit, Freedom House
  • Ebru Erdem-Akçay, Turkish political scientist

Opening Remarks:

  • Rep. Randy Hultgren, Co-Chair, TLHRC
  • Rep. James P. McGovern, Co-Chair, TLHRC


  • Everett Price, Policy Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission