ECtHR’s annual report shows Turkey 2nd top violator of human rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Turkish government has violated human rights in 2,988 cases and become second among the countries with most human rights violations among European countries which are members of the Council of Europe (CoE).

According to a report by ECtHR for the year 2017, “recent years had seen a significant reduction in the number of pending cases from Turkey essentially as a result of the existence of a direct appeal to the Constitutional Court, a remedy that we had considered effective. Since last July’s tragic attempted coup d’état, Turkey has climbed back up to second position, with a very significant increase in the number of cases.”

Speaking at a press conference that was organized to present 2017 report, ECtHR President Guido Raimondi i said Turkey is the leading human rights violator among the 47 signatory countries of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

More than 7,518 new cases were opened against Turkey in 2017 and more than 30,000 appeals have been done since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Raimondi said that about 27,000 of these appeals were turned down because the legal process in Turkey were not finished at the times of the appeal.

However, ECtHR reported a 275 percent increase in cases against Turkey in 2017. The cases against Turkey constitutes 13,3 percent of total cases in ECtHR. Turkey follows Romania as Russia top the list with the most cases.

As a solution to suppress outcry from Turkish public and international organizations over rights violations and arbitrariness, OHAL Commission began receiving applications on July 17, 2017 from former public employees suspended from their posts. The application period was ended on September 14, 2017. However, the commission led by openly Erdoğanist Deputy Undersecretary of the Justice Ministry, Selahaddin Menteş, has been widely criticised for being biased.

The critics said the OHAL Commission has solely been aimed at reducing the applications to the ECtHR. However, 22,000 teachers whose licenses have been canceled by the statutory decrees in the private schools are not seen eligible to apply the Commission. Likewise, judges and prosecutors have not been suspended due to the lists attached to the government decrees, but were dismissed with the decisions taken by the related authorities responsible for the institutions they have served.

ECtHR’s requirement of “run out of domestic jurisdictions” for application forced the Turkish government to form the OHAL Commission, as a kind of formality. With the establishment of OHAL Commission, the decision of ECtHR such as remitter or compensation has been prevented. According to complaints the government established the commission to take the process as slowly as possible, reducing reaction of victims and digesting them easily after dissemination of the solution over the years were aimed.

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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