Turkey’s purge victims find no justice as domestic and international courts send them back and forth

JUSTICE STILL seems to be miles away for those who were accused of being key role players of the failed coup of 2016 as they are caught between the decisions of Turkey’s judiciary and the rather engorged legal path through the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Turkey’s judiciary and handling of human rights have constantly been lambasted by the international community.

Haluk Savas, a former professor of psychiatry at the University of Gaziantep, is one of the thousands of academics dismissed from their post based on presidential decrees issued during a two-year state of emergency rule.

He was detained on July 23, 2016, accused of being a member of a terrorist organization. He was only released after being diagnosed with pancreas cancer.

He was later acquitted by the court at the end of the trial, but his appeal to be back to duty was rejected by a commission.

The State of Emergency Procedures Investigation (OHAL) Commission was established by the Turkish government on July 12, 2017, to pave the way for civil servants to appeal legal actions against them under the ongoing post-coup bid state of emergency.

“They see themselves above the court. They violate human rights and the Constitution, commit crimes against humanity. One day, they will account before the law,” said a sad Savas through a video released as part of his efforts to defend the rights of what he calls “emergency call victims.”

The professor has called on the commission to be abolished immediately.

Turkey issued 36 presidential decrees in the wake of the coup attempt, sacking 135,144 public servants, according to official numbers.

Many dismissed public servants later failed to during their appeals to Turkish courts have since approached the ECHR, calling on the continental court to correct the mistakes in order to be back to the grind or correct the judgements they believe to be false.

A total of 7,100 cases from Turkey were filed to ECHR in 2018, the court announced. In many cases, however, the Strasbourg-based-court ruled the applicants have not exhausted all domestic remedies and rejected their applications.

It means plaintiffs had not taken their case to Turkey’s Constitutional Court first. The European body made exceptions to this rule in some other cases but did not see it necessary for countless cases from Turkey.

Critics say the OHAL commission is nothing than an effort of the Turkish government to slow down the appealing processes and prevent the cases to be transferred to the international courts. They argue the commission is solely aimed at reducing the number of applications to the ECHR.

“A total of 105,151 people have applied to the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission,” Turkish authorities announced on January 31, 2018.

Out of rulings on 1,562 people, the commission ruled in favour of 41 cases, and otherwise against, they declared.

Ramazan F. Güzel, a dismissed judge, criticized the commission’s decisions through many social posts.

“I call upon the members of the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission which have prevented the right to fair trial and right to legal remedies, which are a constitutional right, and has caused hundreds of thousands of people to become victims: Commission is committing a crime,” he wrote recently.

Over 22,000 teachers from private schools whose licenses have been cancelled by presidential decrees are not eligible to apply to the commission.

Likewise, judges and prosecutors have not been suspended by the lists attached to the government decrees but were dismissed by the relevant local authorities have no option to appeal to the ECHR.

Due to government regulations, vested rights have not been reinstated.

Report says together with 48 other countries, Turkey remains “not free” as Ankara continues to target opponents at home and abroad

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