ECtHR faults Turkey for detaining 144 judges and prosecutors after failed 2016 coup

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on Tuesday that Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights by detaining 144 judges and prosecutors after a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, ordering that Turkey pay each applicant 5,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages.

The ECtHR ruled in the cases of Kılınçlı and Others v. Türkiye and Ayvaz and Others v. Türkiye that the suspicion which formed the basis for the 144 applicants’ pretrial detention was not reasonable, pointing out that the evidence in the applicants’ files did not justify the measure.

“Since the Government have not provided any other indications, ‘facts’ or ‘information’ capable of satisfying it that the applicants were ‘reasonably suspected’, at the time of their initial detention, of having committed the alleged offence, the Court finds that the requirements of Article 5 § 1 (c) regarding the ‘reasonableness’ of a suspicion justifying detention have not been satisfied,” the Strasbourg court said in the case of Kılınçlı and Others v. Türkiye.

With this ruling, along with the rulings in the cases of Güngör and Others v. TürkiyeTuran and Others v. TürkiyeAcar and Others v. TürkiyeAtaman and Others v. TürkiyeBayram and Others v. TürkiyeGeleş and Others v. TürkiyeUlusoy and Others v. TürkiyeSevinç and Others v. Türkiye and Moral and Others v. Türkiye the number of judges and prosecutors whose applications have been upheld by the ECtHR in their cases against Turkey has risen to 1,073.

Members of the Turkish judiciary had been arrested after the failed coup as part of a mass crackdown on the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan blames for the coup attempt. Gülen and the movement deny any involvement.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

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