Turkey’s OHAL Commission decides to reinstate only 40 out of 3,110 applicants dismissed by gov’t decrees

The State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission (OHAL Commission) has examined the cases of 3,111 applicants, who were dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and decided to reinstate only 40 of them into their duties.

According to a report by state-run Anadolu news agency, OHAL Commission has released a written statement on Friday and stated that the applications of 880 out of 3,111 examined cases of the dismissed public workers were directly rejected by the Commission. After the preliminary examinations, 206 cases were also forwarded by the Commission to the labor courts. A total of 1,984 applications filed by purged public personnels have been sent to the institutions from where these people were purged.

The statement has also said that, so far, 104,657 applications were made to the Commission which was established with the Decree No. 685 to look at the applications related to the purged people, scholarship students, retired security personnel. After victims have started to apply the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to set up the OHAL Commission on January 23, 2017 as an interim mechanism allegedly to reduce the grievances in the process of dismissal.

As a solution to suppress outcry from Turkish public and international organizations over rights violations and arbitrariness, OHAL Commission began receiving applications on July 17, 2017 from former public employees suspended from their posts. The application period was ended on September 14, 2017. However, the commission led by openly Erdoğanist Deputy Undersecretary of the Justice Ministry, Selahaddin Menteş, has been widely criticised for being biased.

It has previously been reported in the pro-government media that officials from the commission said as of Jan. 10, 2018, over 104,398 people have applied to the commission, while 108,736 were dismissed from their duties. According to the report, the investigative process has been followed with a barcode system.

The commission started to receive complaints in July and has seven members, three of whom were appointed by the prime minister, one by the Justice Ministry, one by the Interior Ministry and two by the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK). A total of 190 personnel, 28 judges, 30 inspectors and 40 experts are working for the commission.

The commission can demand any information and documents from public institutions and judicial authorities except for documents subject to confidentiality as part of ongoing investigations or otherwise classified state secrets. Public institutions and judicial authorities are obliged to immediately provide the requested information to the commission and facilitate any inquiries.

The critics said the OHAL Commission has solely been aimed at reducing the applications to the ECtHR. However, 22,000 teachers whose licenses have been canceled by the statutory decrees in the private schools are not seen eligible to apply the Commission. Likewise, judges and prosecutors have not been suspended due to the lists attached to the government decrees, but were dismissed with the decisions taken by the related authorities responsible for the institutions they have served.

ECtHR’s requirement of “run out of domestic jurisdictions” for application forced the Turkish government to form the OHAL Commission, as a kind of formality. With the establishment of OHAL Commission, the decision of ECtHR such as remitter or compensation has been prevented. According to complaints the government established the commission to take the process as slowly as possible, reducing reaction of victims and digesting them easily after dissemination of the solution over the years were aimed.

Moreover, with the return regulation for dismissed personnel, returning the vested rights has not been aimed. It is predicted that government’s placement of victims in institutions can be considered exile rather than the re-institution that the former ones was targeted. It is very likely that the OHAL Commission will make a positive decision about mistakenly dismissed government supporters, and only they will be returned to their jobs.

In the aftermath of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, 26 decree laws (KHK) have been issued under the rule of emergency (OHAL) declared on July 20, 2016. So far 114 thousand 961 public officials were dismissed from their duties with these KHKs, 32 thousand 180 officials were struck off.

To date, there are 47 private health institutions, 881 private educational institutions, 108 private student dormitories, 104 foundations, 1,409 associations, 19 trade unions, 15 private universities, 5 news agencies, 17 TV channels, 22 radio channels, 46 newspapers, 20 journals, 29 publishing houses / distribution companies closed.

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 President 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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