German supreme court halts deportation of Turkish citizen due to torture in Turkey

Germany’s supreme court has halted the deportation of a Turkish citizen convicted of supporting an radical Islamist militant organisation on Tuesday, saying authorities should first ensure he wouldn’t face torture or inhumane prison conditions in Turkey.

According to a report by Reuters, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court overturned a ruling by a lower court that ordered the deportation of the man, who was born and raised in Germany, after he was convicted of traveling to Syria and supporting a “terrorist organisation.”

Nearly a thousand people are believed to have left Germany to fight with Islamist militants. Some are now returning as the jihadist group’s presence in the Middle East crumbles.

The court ruling said the 30 year-old man, who was not identified by name, went to Syria with his wife and children in 2013 where he supported an Islamist militia group, After his return to Germany, he transferred money to an account related to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it said.

He was initially sentenced to three years and six months in prison in Germany in 2015, but immigration authorities ordered his immediate deportation to Turkey. The high court called for checks. “It is constitutionally necessary for responsible authorities and courts to be informed about the conditions in a destination country before a deportation,” the court said.

The ruling stems from an appeal from a German-born Turkish national:

In 2015, a Berlin court sentenced a German-born Turkish Salafist to three and a half years in prison for supporting a Syrian terrorist organisation. Germany’s immigration office in 2016 threatened the 30-year-old convict with deportation. However, the Turkish man took the threat of deportation to court, saying that Turkish authorities have initiated a criminal case against him on terrorism charges. The convict argued that he would be tortured – like other terror suspects – if he were deported, and backed his argument with a letter detailing such claims from Amnesty International.

In the wake of a failed coup in 2016, Turkey launched a major crackdown, arresting journalists, teachers and judges. That year, Amnesty International said it gathered “credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape.”

Deutsche Welle (DW) wrote on Tuesday that German authorities will have a tougher time carrying out deportations now. They will be expected to receive assurances from a person’s country of origin that the returnee will not be subjected to torture by authorities after arrival.

Germany is home to around three million people of Turkish descent, some of who have German citizenship, while others only hold Turkish passports. A growing number of Turks have sought asylum in Germany since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 in Turkey.

In a report titled “Tortured to Death”, SCF investigators has exposed on Nov. 21, 2017 the case of 42-year-old history teacher Gökhan Açıkkollu, who died after enduring 13 days of torture and abuse in police detention in İstanbul.

The torture, ill-treatment, abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment of people who are deprived of their liberties in Turkey’s detention centers and prisons have become a norm rather than an exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in the country in wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has reported one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in Turkish jails and detention centers where a torture and ill-treatment is being practiced. In most cases, authorities concluded these as suicides without any effective, independent investigation.

The suspicious death has also taken place beyond the prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before the detention. SCF has compiled 102 cases of suspicious death and suicides in Turkey in a list as of December 28, 2017 in a searchable database format.

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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