EP’s Harms: I have serious doubts about ECtHR’s attitude over cases from Turkey

Rebecca Harms

Rebecca Harms, a member of the European Parliament and Co-President of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, has said that she has serious doubts about the attitude of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) since the court rely unduly on domestic legal remedies in Turkey over the cases opened against thousands of people under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Giving an interview to Eşref Aydoğmuş from online news outlet Ahval on Thursday, Harms stated that “I have serious doubts about the attitude of the ECtHR. They should end to transfer the cases coming from Turkey to the Turkish judiciary. The Court rely unduly on domestic remedies in Turkey.” 

Stating that Erdoğan has been putting the people who criticises him into prison in order to get rid of them and intimidate his rivals for sake of his own political interests, Harms said that “Look at the cases of Selahattin Demirtaş and other democratically elected the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies; look at the cases of journalist Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ayşenur Parıldak and Şahin Alpay; and look at the cases of Cumhuriyet daily, Deniz Yücel, human rights advocate Taner Kılıç or Osman Kavala…  There are so many cases in the Turkish judiciary that there is no fair judicial process or just verdicts for political victims…”

“Most of the cases reached to the ECtHR have already been put on the table in Strasbourg,” said Harms and continued that “Especially the cases of the journalists and writers whose lawyers have been demanding help from Strasbourg for a long time… This situation shows that the ECtHR rely unduly on domestic remedies in Turkey.”

A comprehensive report by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.

In addition to jailing thousands of judges and prosecutors, Turkey has also imprisoned hundreds of human rights defenders and lawyers, making extremely difficult for detainees to access to a lawyer in violation of a due process and fair trial protections under the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedures.

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.

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