Top court ruling preventing arbitrary passport bans goes into effect

Turkey’s Interior Ministry will no longer impose arbitrary restrictions on Turkish passports in line with a ruling from the Constitutional Court that has recently gone into effect, Turkish Minute reported.

Following a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the government cancelled nearly 50,000 passports on the grounds that it was fighting terrorism.

While the courts ruled for the annulment of the passport revocations in some cases, the Interior Ministry, in a controversial move, decided to impose restrictions on their passports, depriving them of the right to the freedom of movement, based on amendments to the law on passports.

The relevant articles of the law on passports, which allowed the Interior Ministry to impose arbitrary restrictions on passports, were challenged by a group of lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) at the Constitutional Court last year.

The top court issued a ruling on July 14, 2021 finding that the passport restrictions imposed by the Interior Ministry due to a person’s alleged affiliation with terrorist groups violate the 13th and 23rd articles of the Turkish Constitution, which concern the restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms only by law and the right to freedom of movement, respectively.

The top court’s decision was to go into effect one year after it was published in the Official Gazette.

There must now be a court decision for the Interior Ministry to impose restrictions on a passport.

Many people including children drowned in the Aegean Sea or the Maritsa River while trying to flee a government crackdown in Turkey on followers of the Gülen movement after the coup attempt. These people had to leave the country illegally to make their way to Europe because their passports had been revoked by the government.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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