Cases of Turkey’s post-coup victims pile up before top courts after refused by ECtHR

The number of cases from Turkey pending at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decreased this year, but critics warn that the figures do not indicate a progress in Turkey’s human rights record. Because, Turkish citizens filed more than 90,200 violations to ECtHR but the court found some 30,063 of them inadmissible in 2017, Cumhuriyet daily reported on Sunday.

According to ECtHR rules, the case files need to exhaust all domestic legal objections before being submitted to the court. After an amendment in 2013 allowed Turkey’s Constitutional Court to hear individual applications, the number of ECtHR applications from Turkey has dropped.

Online news portal Ahval reported that following the purge of more than 140,000 public sector employees in the aftermath of the controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish applications to ECtHR saw a sudden increase. Turkey mitigated the situation by setting up an “appeal commission” to review the cases of employees dismissed by the government decrees.

The commission is not transparent in its decision making, and does not provide detailed rulings, Kerem Altıparmak a professor of human rights law in Ankara University said.

The human rights violations complaints pending at Turkey’s top court also reached 67,434, former military judge Ümit Kardaş said. More than 40,000 of these cases were submitted after Turkish government declared emergency rule in July 2016.

In one recent case, where the Constitutional Court ordered release of two journalists for right violations, a Turkish local court rejected top court’s ruling. Since the Constitutional Court’s order is not implemented, Turkey loses its argument that it is an effective legal route, Altıparmak said.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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