Top court annuls critical articles of laws on state of emergency

The main building of Turkey's Constitutional Court.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has canceled several articles of two laws on a state of emergency (OHAL) imposed following a failed coup in 2016 in a move that is expected to see the reinstatement of some public servants to their jobs, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Turkish media.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of a failed coup on July 15, 2016 that remained in effect until July 19, 2018.

During the state of emergency, the AKP issued a number of government decrees, known as KHKs, through which 130,000 civil servants were purged from their jobs due to their real or alleged connections to “terrorist organizations.”

The top court has concluded its examination of an application filed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) requesting the cancellation of some of the articles of the two laws, which are dated July 2018 and July 2021, respectively.

The court’s reasoned decision on the application was published in the Official Gazette on Friday.

According to the decision, the court annulled a provision on stripping away the rank of personnel in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the Gendarmerie General Command, the Coast Guard Command and the General Directorate of Security on grounds of affiliation with a terrorist organization without conducting an investigation into them.

A provision allowing purged civil servants who were reinstated by the OHAL Commission, which looks into complaints from individuals who were adversely affected by government decrees during the state of emergency, being appointed to positions other than their original ones was also annulled.

A clause that stipulated giving priority to universities that are outside of Ankara, İstanbul and İzmir provinces and established after 2006 when reappointing purged academics was also canceled, according to local media reports.

A regulation which stipulated that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) be excluded from the scope of Law No. 4982 on the Right to Information without any exceptions was canceled for “completely abolishing the possibility of exercising the right to information.”

The court also annulled a regulation that prevents the transfer of the weapons of purged public servants to third parties and has them transferred directly to the state, saying that it was a “disproportionate limitation” on the right to own property.

Ali Soylu, an associate professor of management at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, on Friday criticized the top court for only realizing the unconstitutionality of the annulled articles eight years later.

“Justice delayed is not justice. … I condemn this, I do not respect it,” Soylu said, adding that it’s not acceptable for Turkey’s top court to pretend as if nothing happened for years while the rights of thousands were being violated in the country.

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