Turkish courts begin ordering compensation for reinstated purge victims following top court order

The Constitutional Court of Turkey

Courts in Turkey have begun to order the state to pay damages to purge victims who were reinstated to their positions after they were summarily dismissed in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016, the Bold Medya news website reported.

The decisions started after the Constitutional Court annulled a provision that excluded monetary compensation to reinstated public sector workers.

One example is the case of a reinstated municipal employee, identified only by the initials C.K., whose lawyer had initially applied to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality for non-pecuniary damages. After being rejected by the municipality, C.K.’s lawyer filed a lawsuit, in which the court ruled for non-pecuniary damages of TL 50,000 ($1,700).

One of the judges expressed a dissenting opinion, saying the amount was inadequate considering the fact that it took five years before the applicant was reinstated.

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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