Rights advocate submits parliamentary bill to repeal Turkey’s post-coup decree-laws

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu

Opposition deputy and leading human rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has brought to the parliamentary agenda a bill to repeal the executive decree-laws issued during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency after a failed military coup in July 2016, Bold Medya reported.

“These unconstitutional decree-laws have created a mess. We are faced with a disaster, and we need to tackle it one way or another,” Gergerlioğlu said, speaking at the general assembly to introduce the bill. “Millions of people are suffering all kinds of oppression.”

“It is unacceptable that decree-laws issued in a time of emergency become ordinary laws,” he said.

Following the attempted coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency that lasted until July 2018. During the state of emergency, a series of decree-laws issued by the government saw the summary dismissal of more than 100,000 civil servants as well as the closure of hundreds of media outlets, NGOs, foundations, labor unions and educational institutions for suspected links to terrorism.

The plight of purge victims has been high on the agenda of human rights defenders since 2016 as it involved, in addition to losing their jobs without due process, blacklisting on the social security database that significantly hampered any job prospects in the private sector and automatic travel bans that prevented them from starting a new life abroad.

In some cases, people were denied access to fundamental social services such as disability benefits due to a family member who was a purge victim.

The lack of an effective remedy has also been the subject of widespread international criticism as the purge victims initially had no clear way of appealing the decree-laws. While the government eventually set up an ad hoc review commission amid pressure from European human rights organizations, the commission was also criticized for its lack of institutional independence, opaque procedures and seemingly arbitrary criteria for reviewing appeals. It ended up rejecting an overwhelming majority of the applications it received.

Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in October, dropping one rank in comparison to last year.

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