PPJ: Temporary rule of emergency in Turkey becomes ‘de facto permanent’ emergency regime

Photo: turkeypurge.com

“The state of emergency (SoE) temporarily declared in Turkey has soon become a ‘de facto permanent’ emergency regime as a matter of convenience for the government, said Platform for Peace & Justice (PPJ), a Brussel-based human rights organisation, in its the most recent report released on Tuesday.

The 76-page report, titled “Council of Europe’s Perspective on the Rule of Law and Human Rights in Turkey in the Aftermath of 15th July 2016 Coup Attempt”, stated that the government under the direction of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prefers to govern through the emergency decree laws.

The report said these decree laws do not go through the review of the parliament as they are mostly still waiting for the parliamentary proceedings and added that “They are not made subject to judicial review either. The Constitutional Court refuses to examine the constitutionality of the new order established by the SoE decree laws.”

Some findings of the PPJ report are as follows:

“The Council of Europe, to which Turkey is a party, through its various bodies, has put forward its views and responses as an authoritative benchmark on a great number of occasions in connection with the state of emergency practices in Turkey.”

“Within this context, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has underlined that the dismissal and arrests of thousands of judges and prosecutors ‘has seriously disrupted the proper functioning of the judicial system, including through the possible ‘chilling effect’ on new and remaining judges of the sudden dismissal of their colleagues with its adverse consequences for judicial independence.’

“PACE has warned that lifting the immunity of the MPs has seriously undermined the democratic functioning of the Turkish Parliament. PACE has also noted that the adoption of new constitutional amendments would result a shift from a parliamentary to a presidential system, granting the President extensive powers while drastically reducing the supervisory role of the parliament.

“PACE furthermore decided on 25 April 2017 in its Resolution 2156 to reopen the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey until ‘serious concerns’ about respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law ‘are addressed in a satisfactory manner.’ The Assembly in its Resolution 2188 also reiterated its deepest concern about the scope of measures taken under the state of emergency and the amendments to the constitution.

“The Venice Commission, another specialised body of the Council of Europe, has also published numerous opinions as regards Turkey’s state of emergency practices. The Commission’s opinion on emergency decree laws has warned against the danger of pro-longed emergency regime and of the measures not strictly necessary by the emergency.

“Similar to Venice Commission, European Human Rights Commissioner’s opinions made significant assessments concerning the incompatibility of the SoE measures and judicial practices with the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The Commissioner has criticized the broad discretionary powers attributed to the administrative bodies which erode the rule of law and the prolongation of the SoE rather than return to ordinary legislation.

“The ECtHR’s overall response did not live up to the expectations with its decisions in the post 15th July 2016 period regarding the SoE victims’ applications. The Court rejected the application of Mr. Zihni who was dismissed by the emergency decree law No. 672 on grounds of non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, despite many critical views that emergency decree laws were out the judicial and constitutional review.

“The legitimacy of the repeated extensions of the SoE regime, the legality and the constitutionality of the measures, the foreseeability, proportionality and necessity of these measures in a democratic society are the grounds by which the SoE measures would be caught as incompatible with the European human rights norms. Yet, the ECtHR has opted to reject the post-coup applications on procedural pretexts without examination of the merits.

“Apart from the judicial approach, it is suspected that the ECtHR’s rejection of the post-coup victims might have served political expediencies. However, under the persistent and deteriorating human rights situation in the country, it is vital that the Court sends a strong message to the Turkish government by ruling on human rights violations within ‘pilot case procedure’ and refer these cases to the Committee of Ministers”

Brussels-based Platform for Peace and Justice (PPJ) is a platform that monitors and reports the developments in the fields of peace, justice, democracy, the rule of law and human rights, with a special focus on Turkey.

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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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