CoE warns Turkish gov’t of flood of appeals to ECtHR over state of emergency measures

The spokesperson of Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland has warned that Turkish government risks further appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) if it does not see effective domestic legal remedy for those dismissed or detained under state of emergency measures, according to a report by Hürriyet daily news.

“Turkey risks thousands more human rights appeals to the Strasbourg court if the ECtHR sees no effective domestic legal remedy for the thousands of dismissed and detained citizens during the state of emergency,” Daniel Holtgen said via his Twitter account on Thursday during a visit of the CoE’s head visit to Turkey.

The message came amid Jagland’s discussions in Ankara, where he has been scheduled to meet Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, European Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik, Constitutional Court head Zühtü Arslan and Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman. Jagland will also have meetings with members of opposition parties and civil society.

“I told Turkish Minister Gül there is no “anti-Turkish campaign” in Europe. We speak to #Turkey openly as friends, as partners and as a long standing member of the Council of Europe,” said Jagland on his twitter account following the meeting with Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül.

Turkish Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman has also met Council of Europe head on Thursday. Kahraman said that he was pleased to receive CoE Secretary General Jagland in the parliament. Jagland said, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), that “I assure you the cooperation between Turkey and European Council will continue.”

The CoE delegation led by Jagland also met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu in Ankara on Thursday. In a statement posted on Twitter, Çavuşoğlu said the meeting discussed the fight against terrorism and common agenda between Turkey and the CoE.  “We underlined the importance of Turkey’s fight against terrorist organizations, reiterated our expectations from Council of Europe and its members, and discussed Turkey-CoE common agenda at our meeting with Secretary General Jagland,” said Çavuşoğlu.

In 2016 the CoE recommended Turkish government to establish a commission to overlook emergency decrees and to address the grievances about people complaining about the decrees. In January 2017, the Turkish government formed the controversial State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission to allegedly evaluate appeals filed by people affected by the decrees.

However, the commission has moved very slowly amid thousands of complaints about removals or dismissals from civil servants, educational institutions, closed associations, foundations, trade unions, federations, private health institutions, higher education institutions, privately owned radio and TV stations, newspapers, magazines, news agencies, publishing houses and distributors. The commission has so far only responded to a small number of applications, reinstating some of the applicants and rejecting most of others.

Concerns have also risen about the authority of the Constitutional Court in Turkey, after controversial recent cases in which lower courts refused to apply rulings issued by the country’s top court.

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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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