Majority of complaints at ECtHR against Turkey concern July 15 coup attempt: report

European Court of Human Rights

Most of the applications filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against Turkey are related to rights violations that allegedly occurred during and after a coup attempt in 2016, Turkish Minute reported, citing Deutsche Welle Turkish service.

According to 2021 statistics announced by ECtHR President Robert Spano, Turkey ranks second with 15,251 applications pending at the ECtHR, coming after Russia, with two-thirds of them concerning alleged violations in arrests and trials related to the coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

Of some 11,000 complaints filed against Turkey in connection with a post-coup crackdown, some 5,000 are related to violations in arrests and about 6,000 concern trials.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

To speed up the process last year, the European court started to announce pilot decisions by grouping these cases.

Responding to a complaint brought by 427 members of the Turkish judiciary who were arrested after the failed putsch, the court said their detentions were marked by “unlawfulness” and ordered Ankara to pay 5,000 euros in damages to each applicant in November 2021.

The announcement of such decisions is expected to accelerate in 2022.

According to the report, the ECtHR announced rulings in a total of 1,105 applications in 2021. Following Russia, Ukraine and Romania, Turkey ranked fourth, with 78 rulings, finding no violation only in two of them.

As in the previous year, Turkey ranked first among the 47 Council of Europe member states in the number of judgments from the ECtHR concerning violations of freedom of expression in 2021.

Of 85 rulings where the court found a violation of freedom of expression, 31 were against Turkey.

Turkey’s post-coup crackdown has mainly targeted the real and alleged followers of the faith-based Gülen movement. President Recept Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of Dec. 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch of 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Turkey has been criticized for failing to implement the court’s rulings, especially in the cases of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and jailed businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala, both arrested on politically motivated charges.

The court called for Demirtaş and Kavala’s immediate release from prison in rulings in 2018 and in 2019, respectively.

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