Head of top court in Turkey confirms they don’t have authority to review statutory decrees

The main building of Turkey's Constitutional Court.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM) President Zühtü Arslan stated that as the top court of the country they don’t have the authority to review the statutory decrees issued during the State of Emergency. “We cannot be expected to step outside the constitutional borders,” said Arslan as speaking at the 55th foundation anniversary of the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

He continued to legitimize executive decrees that have caused hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey to suffer by saying that “Purpose of the State of Emergency is to eliminate the threats that cause the State of Emergency and guarantee an environment in which fundamental rights and freedoms are efficiently exercised. AYM’s rights-oriented approach must be conceived in a way that it protects fundamental rights and freedoms by remaining within the constitutional borders.”

In a recent report as part of continuing series that focus on human rights violations and arbitrariness in the application of the law in Turkey, Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has concluded that the rule of law as we know no longer exists in Turkey. The comprehensive report titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” has provided 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.

AYM head also remarked that “Constitution Article No. 148 explicitly states that the statutory decrees issued during the State of Emergency cannot be taken to the Constitutional Court. Departing from this point, the AYM ruled that it doesn’t have the authority to review the statutory decrees put into effect during the State of Emergency. The AYM cannot be expected to step outside the constitutional borders.”

AYM head’s obvious statement over the top court’s inefficiency has confirmed once again that The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) remains the last beacon of hope for millions of Turks who feel their fundamental rights were violated. Millions of Turkish people expect the Strasbourg court to take up cases on an emergency procedures and pilot judgement framework to issue landmark rulings to set the bar on protecting human rights in Turkey.

As the rule of law is longer applicable in Turkey, the requirement of the court for the complainants to exhaust domestic remedies including individual application to the Constitutional Court before filing a case with the ECtHR has become an additional burden on victims. So the expectation of many people is that since Turkey is going through an extraordinary period, must be declared as a special case and be dealt with an urgent manner.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

According to a statement by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt, while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.

April 26, 2017

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  1. […] [25] TC/148: “Ancak, olağanüstü hallerde, sıkıyönetim ve savaş hallerinde çıkarılan kanun hükmünde kararnamelerin şekil ve esas bakımından Anayasaya aykırılığı iddiasıyla, Anayasa Mahkemesinde dava açılamaz.” 16 Nisan 2017’de “kanun hükmünde kararname” terimi “Cumhurbaşkanlığı kararnameleri” ile değiştirildi ve “sıkıyönetim” kelimesi çıkarıldı. Ancak Anayasa maddesinin esas anlamı olduğu gibi kaldı. Ayrıca bkz. Stockholm Center for Freedom, “Head Of Top Court In Turkey Confirms They Don’t Have Authority To Review Statutory Decrees,” 26 Nisan 2017, http://stockholmcf.org/head-of-top-court-in-turkey-confirms-they-dont-have-authority-to-review-stat…. […]

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