ECtHR rejects application of ‘Academics for Peace’ referring to rule of emergency commission in Turkey

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has rejected the application of ‘Academics for Peace’ who were discharged through statutory decrees and claimed violation of their freedom of expression by referring to the State of Emergency Commission in Turkey, Bianet reported on Monday.

Academic Kerem Altıparmak interpreting the court’s decision pointing to the State of Emergency Commission as a domestic legal remedy and said that “The ECtHR acts against its own case law” and reminded that the State of Emergency Commission was only in charge of determining whether the discharge was in accordance with the law and not of examining the case in term of a violation of freedom of expression.

The application was lodged on June 15, 2017 by 54 academics who had signed the peace declaration, “We will not be a party to this crime.” Altıparmak, who prepared the application guide together with Prof. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, criticized the ECtHR decision that this understanding of the ECtHR made an application impossible and said that “We thought, since the applying to the State of Emergency Commission would not solve the issue regarding freedom of expression, this cannot be applied for the Academics for Peace, this issue should be examined separately and therefore prepared this [application] guide.”

“As the commission was set up, it had rejected everybody’s application earlier. We had hopes that they would examine the case in terms of this new argument [freedom of expression]. But now, we can say that the path of lodging an application to the ECtHR has been blocked, at least at this stage,” added Altıparmak.

Saying that “Now we have to wait for the State of Emergency Commission. Following their decision, an application to an administrative court. If a very standard decision is made there, an application to the ECtHR can be considered,” Altıparmak continued “We don’t have an idea how long this would take since the State of Emergency Commission has been receiving applications but has not started operating yet.”

The Commission to Review the Actions Taken Under the State of Emergency was established through the Statutory Decree No. 685 dated January 23, 2017 in order to “assess and decide upon applications lodged against actions including expulsion from the profession, dissolution of respective organizations and institutions, termination of one’s studentship and cancelling the ranks of retired personnel which have been taken directly on the basis of the provisions of Decree-laws, in the absence of any other administrative action, on the grounds of attachment to, or affiliation or connection with terrorist organizations.”

The President of the Commission, Selahaddin Menteş announced that there were 101,304 applications lodged to the commission as of October 4, 2017. Menteş noted that they had referred the cases to rapporteurs for examination and that the final results would be received by November 2017.

The head of the German Bar Association (DAV), Ulrich Schellenberg, said the rule of law no longer exists in Turkey, warning German lawyers about the possibility of being arrested in the country, Deutsche Welle reported on Friday.

“There is no rule of law in Turkey anymore. There is no presumption of innocence. There is no effective defense. There is no independent judiciary,” Schellenberg told dpa, underlining that lawyers have been detained due to their clients and that people are having difficulties finding attorneys.

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

Fethullah 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 Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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