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Persecution

Re: Urge Turkish Authorities to stop torture and bring perpetrators to justice on INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE JUNE 26 th

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INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE, JUNE 26TH

     Gokhan Acikkollu, the 42-year-old history teacher with diabetes, was dismissed from his job, subsequently detained and tortured for 13 days under police custody in Turkey. He ultimately died from a heart attack. Two years later, after his death, authorities found him not guilty and reinstated him to his teaching post; however, no real justice has been given.

Since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, democratic and fundamental human rights have been suspended in Turkey. The Turkish government has disregarded basic human rights, equality, and respect for human dignity. It has completely broken its ties with the western world, the European Union in particular. It is stated in Human Rights Watch October 2017 report that people accused of terrorism or of being linked to the July 2016 attempted coup are at risk of torture in police custody. There has been a spate of reported cases of men being abducted, some of whom were held in secret detention places, with evidence pointing to the
involvement of state authorities. 

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for UN Human Rights, declared that during the state of emergency period about 160,000 people were detained in Turkey; 152,000 state officials, including teachers, judges, and lawyers were arbitrarily expelled or investigated; over 200 journalists were arrested, 201 media outlets and hundreds of websites were shut down. There were many cases of torture, rape, and kidnapping, which were only partially reflected in the reports.

According to a report released by the United States Department of State on human rights practices in Turkey in 2018 between July 2016 and July 2018, Turkish Ministry of Justice reported that “investigations” were opened into 612,347 persons, the majority of whom were affiliated with the Gulen movement. Authorities prosecuted 1,519 lawyers and dismissed 7,257 academics and more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors. After the coup, the government operated prisons became filled with people who were detained and awaiting trial and began to work over capacity. 28 individuals disappeared, some kidnapped in broad daylight in front of their families.

Reports of torture, mistreatment, and abuse skyrocketed from tens in 2017 to more than 2,500 in 2018. 51 people lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in official custody.

The most recent torture incidents took place at Police Headquarters in Ankara against detained six ex-diplomats of Turkish Foreign Ministry on May 26th which were documented by the Ankara Bar Association. HDP MP Omer F. Gergerlioglu; Erinc Sagkan, President of Ankara Bar Association, and CHP MP Sezgin Tanrikulu spoke out about the allegations immediately.

We urge all the international bodies and human rights organizations along with Turkish judiciary to take all necessary steps to STOP TORTURE in TURKEY and bring all the perpetrators to justice.

Advocates of Silenced Turkey
help@silencedturkey.org
www.silencedturkey.org
Twitter: @silencedturkey
Facebook: @silencedturkey

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PRESS RELEASE ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2019

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WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2019

It is acknowledged in UNHCR’s Global Trends 2018 Report that the number of forcibly displaced people increased by 2.3 million people in 2018. By the end of the year, almost 70.8 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, states:

“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict, and persecution.”

Since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has targeted individuals and groups opposing the government. Through a mass witch-hunt, hundreds of thousands of people have been faced with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, denial of fair treatment, labeling, confiscation, and passport seizure. Turkish prisons became filled with people who were detained and awaiting trial and began to operate over capacity. 28 individuals disappeared, some kidnapped in broad daylight in front of their families. Reports of torture, mistreatment, and abuse skyrocketed from tens in 2017 to more than 2,500 in 2018. 51 people lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in official custody. Consequently, thousands of people were forced to leave the country for freedom and to live in humane conditions.

Migration is not easy for those who migrate as well as those countries who receive them. The activist poet Warshan Shire’s words about forced displacement summarize the refugee issue very concisely: “No one puts their children in a boat unless the boat is safer than the land.”

We, as AST (Advocates of Silenced Turkey), are dedicated to support refugees as well as to defend their rights and be a voice for them.

Hafza Y. GIRDAP
Spokesperson
directorhg@silencedturkey.org

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PRESS RELEASE Re:Refugees-and-Latest-Pushbacks-in-Greece

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Introduction

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the boat is safer than the land.” (Warshan Shire, Home)

Thousands of refugees fleeing their homeland due to violence, terror, or political prosecution use Greece as an entry gate to Europe. Since the beginning of 2014, over 1.1 million refugees have crossed the borders of Greece(3). Most of the refugees have chosen to go by sea in order to land on one of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, but recently a growing number of refugees have begun to use Evros as a passage from Turkey to Greece. In recent years, besides refugees who are using Turkey as a transitway to Greece, Turkish citizens who were forced to flee Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt have also used the same route. This witch-hunt was launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against the sympathizers of the Gulen Movement following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Many of these citizens attempted to escape Turkey using illegal methods as the Turkish government canceled their passports.

So far, the asylum-seeking Turkish citizens who cross the Evros to escape from a tyrannical regime in Turkey are embraced humanely by the Greek authorities. However, there have been recent reports of several push-back cases, in which groups of Turkish asylum-seekers were beaten by masked men and forced back to Turkey.

Human Rights Abuses in Turkey After July 15, 2016

Following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and began to target any individual opposing the government, the Gulen Movement in particular. The Gulen Movement is also known as the “Hizmet Movement,” “hizmet” meaning service in Turkish. It is a faith-based group of people engaging in different voluntary activities such as education, business, and health, and has been the primary target of the government. Alleged supporters of the movement in Turkey are faced with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, denial of fair treatment, labeling, confiscation, and passport seizure.

According to a report released by the United States Department of State on human rights practices in Turkey in 2018 (2), between July 2016 and July 2018, Turkish Ministry of Justice reported that “investigations” were opened into 612,347 persons, the majority of whom were affiliated with the Gulen movement. Authorities prosecuted 1,519 lawyers and dismissed 7,257 academics and more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors. After the coup, the government operated prisons became filled with people who were detained and awaiting trial and began to operate over capacity. 28 individuals disappeared, some kidnapped in broad daylight in front of their families. Reports of torture, mistreatment, and abuse skyrocketed from tens in 2017 to more than 2,500 in 2018. 51 people lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in official custody.

In addition to opening investigations into persons associated with the movement, the government has made many attempts to limit its citizen’s physical freedom and freedom of speech. 155,000 individuals whose family members were allegedly connected to the Gulen movement were banned from traveling, and the government has investigated over 45,000 social media accounts and blocked more than 50,000 websites. Furthermore, during the first six months of 2018, Twitter received 8,988 court orders and requests from authorities to remove content.

Refugees and Latest Push-backs in Greece

Due to its geographical location, Greece has been the forefront of the influx of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing their home country due to wars, political instability, and economic crises. In the last couple of years, a significant number of Turkish citizens have also begun to cross the border between Turkey and Greece and sought asylum due to the Turkish government’s targeting of dissidents belonging to different ideologies, particularly the Gulen Movement.

Immigrants fleeing from Turkey to Greece either cross the Aegean Sea or the land border between Turkey and Greece that is almost entirely formed by the Evros river. The land border between Turkey and Greece is one of the easternmost frontiers of the European Union. Up until a fence went up on all but 12 kilometers of the Evros in 2012, it was the easiest and safest path for asylum seekers from the Middle East and elsewhere to reach Europe. According to the Greece country report released in March 2019 by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (3), “18,014 persons arrived in Greece through the Greek-Turkish land border of Evros in 2018, compared to 6,592 in 2017.” The same report detailed “a substantial increase of applications submitted from Turkish nationals” in 2018; 4,834 applications in 2018, compared to 1,826 in 2017 and 189 in 2016.

In addition to its own economic problems, Greece has long been dealing with an immigration crisis which has had further economic and social impacts on the country. Faced with a flood of refugees from Greece’s land border with Turkey over the past several years, according to DW News (9), Greek guards are overwhelmed with the task of protecting the borders from refugees and the refugees from violent push-backs. According to a report released by Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), “foreign nationals were returned from Greece to Turkey by boat across the Evros River; some of the persons met alleged that they had been ill-treated (including baton blows to the head) by police and border guard officers or (para-) military commandos during such operations.”(10) According to a news article in The Guardian (11), several unidentified masked men participated in abusing the refugees and forced them back to the Turkish border in freezing temperatures at night without any clothing.

Although there were numerous reports of push-backs made by an unidentified group of people towards immigrants in the past (4), the immigrants who were mainly Turkish citizens never reported any mistreatment on the Greek side of the border until recently. In the last couple of months, there have been several reports that Turkish asylum seekers who entered Greece through the Evros river were beaten by masked men and pushed back into Turkey.

According to ipa.news (5) and Bold (13), while trying to seek asylum in Greece, the Gul family were pushed back into Turkey by masked and armed men dressed in camouflage. Halil Gul, Seher Gul, and their three children entered Greece but were denied entry on Monday. Halil and Seher Gul were taken into custody by the gendarme in the Turkish border city of Edirne. Relatives of the family were called to pick the children up. Zubeyir Koculu, a journalist in Athens, reported the latest update regarding the issue as follows: “A total number of 32 Turkish political asylum seekers were pushed back to Turkey through Evros in the last four days after they arrived in Greece. 17 of them were arrested in Turkey, 11 of them managed to cross the border again and are being kept in custody.”

As reported by keeptalkinggreece.com, ipa.news (12), and Bold (13), a group of 15 people fleeing persecution in Turkey were pushed back to Turkey after crossing the Greek border by masked men using brute force. A family of 4 were arrested by the Turkish police and the remaining 11 people, after a second attempt to enter Greece soil, were detained by Greek police at around 2 P.M. on Saturday near the border and taken into custody according to the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), a nongovernmental organization defending human rights and fighting against illegal pushbacks in the region. In his e-mail to UN representatives, Muhammed Ihsan Erdogan, a Turkish political asylum seeker who currently resides in Athens, says that on May 4th, 2019, around 5:30, three Turkish political asylum seekers, one of whom was his sister, crossed the Evros river in order to come to Greece and were very close to Orestiada. He was asking for help because his sister and two others were afraid of being pushed back into Turkey. His sister also sent a similar message to UN representatives stating that they were afraid of inhumane treatment and being pushed back into Turkey, which would put their lives in danger. However, after these two messages, these three people were pushed back into Turkey and Mr. Erdogan’s sister, Ayse Reyhane Erdogan, was put behind bars in a Turkish prison for two years.

According to a Twitter message from Tihomir Sabchev, in an article that appeared in the Greek magazine Lifo, “people testified in front of lawyers in Thessaloniki” that they were beaten by the police, their possessions were thrown away in the river, they were pushed back. Then they identified one of the policemen in front of UN representatives.”(14)

According to a news article at Euronews.com (15), scores of Turkish asylum seekers were pushed back, sometimes violently. It is said in the news that witnesses claimed that various groups, some uniformed, used physical force against those who resisted. Since April 23, 2019, up to the date the news was published, May 13, 2019, 82 people from Turkey, including children, who crossed the Turkish border for seeking political asylum were sent back to Turkey. Around half of those who returned were arrested by Turkish officials on charges that they were involved in the 2016 military coup.

The pushbacks raised concerns among human rights activists and those who are sensitive to such matters. Ten Greek refugee NGOs urged for the immediate investigation of reports of collective expulsions in the Evros region (8). In addition, Rebecca Harms, a member of the EU Parliament, stated that this situation violates international law. According to Euronews.com (15), The European Commission urged Greece to follow up on the allegations of pushbacks.

Many Turkish asylum-seekers in Greece say they feel safe in Greece (7) and have been treated well. However, the latest reports of push-back incidents raise serious concerns among advocates of human rights.

Evaluation in terms of International Human Rights Law

Push-back news creates an alarming situation in terms of international human rights law and refugee law. These Turkish families from the Hizmet Movement feel that they have no other option but to flee from Erdogan’s dictatorship in any way they could find. It must be highlighted that people are risking their lives to reach Greece with hopes of a new, safe, and free life. These people satisfy the conditions to be considered as refugees in Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention which defines it as “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” (16). If they are to stay in Turkey, it is highly likely that they will face one or more of the Turkish government’s persecution methods such as arbitrary and long pretrial detentions, inhuman prison conditions, abductions, unfair trials and convictions, passport cancellations.

International human rights law protects these families. Greece is a party to many human rights treaties and conventions as part of the European Union and the United Nations, thus has an obligation to protect these people when they reached Greece soils. More specifically, both under the EU and UN legislation, Greece cannot return, deport or expel these refugee families knowing that they will suffer from the Turkish government’s persecutions.

Likewise, Alfred De Zayas, Former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order and Professor of International Law at Geneva School of Diplomacy, asserts that

“In the spirit of article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations adopted in 1951 the Convention Relative to the Status of Refugees. The Convention and its 1967 Protocol lay down the framework for the protection of persons who have a well-founded fear of persecution and hence have an international law right to apply for asylum.  Article 33 of the Refugee Convention elaborates upon the rule of non-refoulement, which prohibits states from deporting, expelling or extraditing asylum seekers to any state where they would be exposed to persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The rule of non-refoulement has also been enacted in other core international human rights treaties such as Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and article 7 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which have been ratified by Greece. The Committee against Torture’s General Comment No. 1 further elucidates the rule and establishes pertinent criteria for its practical application.

Looking at the current situation in Greece, it must be emphasized that Greece is obliged to comply with its commitments under international human rights law and refugee law. Members of the Hizmet Movement fleeing from the Turkish government’s harsh persecutions fulfill the definition of a refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention and have every right to demand protection from deportation to Turkey, where they face persecution. Recent push-backs of asylum seekers from the Hizmet Movement who have been denied the opportunity to have their asylum applications considered in Greece and who have been forcefully returned to Turkey by masked men is extraordinarily worrisome and contravenes international human rights law and refugee law. Hitherto Greece had welcomed the refugees from Turkey.  Greece must stop all push backs, comply with its obligations under international law, and also investigate all reports of push backs and determine responsibilities.  The Greek Government should avail itself of advisory services and technical assistance, which both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the High Commissioner for Human Rights can provide.”

Moreover, Professor Anwar Alam, Senior Fellow at Middle Institute with Policy Perspectives Foundation in New Delhi, also states that.

“In this context, it must be brought to attention that fleeing Hizmet or non-Hizmet people from Turkey to Greece via Evros River or the Aegean Sea enjoy a legal right of protection after crossing into Greece border. EU Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU) states that the first country of asylum is a country where the person has already received international protection – a refugee-like protection, or another kind of “sufficient protection” which must at least include non-refoulement guarantees (Article 35 of the Directive).

Therefore, Greek authorities are urged to comply with this legal injunction and investigate the issue of masked men who are pushing back the refugees to Turkey.”

Conclusion

Migrant pushback is a growing concern, especially in the Greek-Turkish land border. Push-backs, as the word conveys the message, is stopping migrants in the borders and pushing them back by force to the country where they came from. The legal term is collective expulsion (17). According to Article 4 of Protocol 4 (Art 4-4) to the European Convention on Human Rights, push- back is defined in legal terms as “The well-established definition of collective expulsion is any measure of the competent authorities compelling aliens as a group to leave the country, except where such a measure is taken after and on the basis of a reasonable and objective examination of the particular cases of each individual alien of the group.”(18)

Migration is not easy for those who migrate as well as those countries who receive them. People will continue to leave their countries in search of a more secure and dignified future if they face life-threatening conditions, political imprisonment, and torture. Considering the political landscape in the Middle East and Turkey, we do not see credible evidence that the influx of migrants to Greece will stop in the near future. Therefore, Greek authorities should review their border security procedures and give serious consideration to maintaining the safety of asylum seekers to remain in compliance with international laws and regulations. The Greek authorities should investigate the pushback and violence allegations whether those allegations are against border security guards or non-governmental violent groups.

References

  1. Kotsiou, O. S., Kotsios, P., Srivastava, D. S., Kotsios, V., Gourgoulianis, K. I., & Exadaktylos, A. K. (2018). Impact of the Refugee Crisis on the Greek Healthcare System: A Long Road to Ithaca. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(8), 1790. doi:10.3390/ijerph15081790
  2. United States Department of State (2018). Turkey 2018 Human Rights Report. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/289435.pdf
  3. Konstantinou, A.& Georgopoulou, A.(2019). Asylum Information Database, Country Report: Greece. European Council on Refugees and Exiles.
  4. Reidy, E.(2018). An open secret: Refugee pushbacks across the Turkey- Greece border. https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/special-report/ 2018/10/08/refugee-pushbacks-across-turkey-greece-border-Evros.
  5. IpaNews (2019). Another group of Turkish asylum seekers who arrived in Greece pushed-back to Turkey. https://ipa.news/2019/04/29/another- group-of-turkish-asylum-seekers-who-arrived- in-greece-pushed- back-to-turkey/.
  6. Keep Talking Greece (2019). https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2019/ 04/30/turkish-asylum-seekers-evros/?utm_source=feedburner& utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed  253A+KeepTalkingGreece+ 2528Keep+Talking+Greece 2529
  7. NPR (2017). https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/12/27/ 571842458/turks-fleeing-to-greece-find-mostly-warm-welcome- despite-history
  8. EFSYN (2019). https://www.efsyn.gr/node/193572
  9. DWNews (2018). Inside Europe: Greece accused of migrant pushbacks https://www.dw.com/en/inside-europe-greece-accused-of-migrant- pushbacks/av-46044142
  10. CEO-CPT (2018). https://www.coe.int/en/web/cpt/-/greece- council-of-europe-anti-torture-committee-calls-for-the-situation-of-psychiatric-patients-to-be-improved-while- criticising-once-again-the-poor-t
  11. Guardian (2018). https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/18/ greek-police-accused-beating-migrants-trying-to-enter-from- turkey
  12. Ipa News (2019). https://ipa.news/2019/04/28/we-were-beaten-and- pushed-back-by-masked-men-at-turkish-greek-border-turkish- journalist-and-asylum-seeker/
  13. Bold (2019). https://medyabold.com/2019/04/29/iki-ayri-turkiyeli- multeci-grubu-yunanistandan-geri-itildi/
  14. Lifo (2019). https://m.lifo.gr/articles/greece_articles/ 236781/apokleistiki-sygklonistiki-martyria-apo-to-teleytaio- push-back-ston-evro?fbclid=IwAR2PuufQWcjmHNp2tCyzsvfeN-X4rxJYjezsseBQsRZbq9ITHuknTANG28g
  15. EuroNews (2019). https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/11/masked-men- beat-us-with-batons-greece-accused-of-violent-asylum-seeker-pushbacks
  16. UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3be01b964.html [accessed 1 June 2019].
  17. Macgregor, M. (2018). InfoMigrants. https://www.infomigrants.net/en/ post/11579/greek-authorities-accused-of-illegal-pushbacks-and- violence-against-migrants
  18. Council of Europe (2019). Guide on Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights. https://www.echr.coe.int/ Documents/Library_Collection_P4postP11_ETS046E_ENG.pdf

 

 

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Mother’s Day 2019 Free Prisoners of Conscience / Turkey

This year on Mother’s Day, over 6,000 women have been imprisoned in Turkey within the persecution of the government. More than 700 babies -in order to be able to stay with their mothers – are living in the harsh conditions of a prison ward and a lot of children have been separated from their mothers and are being raised by relatives. #TurkeyPurge #MothersDay #FreePrisonersOfConscience

Mother’s Day 2019 Free Prisoners of Conscience / Turkey

U.S Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi & Renee Vaugeois (Exc.Director of John Humphrey Center for Peace and Human Rights)

Ela Gandhi

The Venerable David Selzer (Executive Archdeacon, Diocese of Ottawa) / Ann Selzer ( Practitioner Nurse)

Professor Vonya Womack

Lawyer James Harrington, Professor Lopita Nath

Donna Entz (Community Worker Among Newcomers),Film Producer & Journalist Thomas Sideris

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European Court Of Human Rights Should Reconsider Judicial Independence in Turkey

POSITION PAPER
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD RECONSIDER JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN TURKEY BEFORE REFERRING CASES TO DOMESTIC AUTHORITIES

Background
In recent years and in particular in the aftermath of attempted coup of  July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has been targeting dissidents belonging to different ideologies. Among the many dissident groups, in particular the Gulen Movement has been the primary target. The members or sympathizers of the movement have been subject to extreme and unlawful measures,  including dismissals, detention, arrest, imprisonment, enforced and involuntary disappearance, seizure of their assets and passport cancellation. International organizations, including the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union have repeatedly expressed their grave concern regarding the human rights violations perpetrated on individuals by the government. Repeated calls to Turkey to comply with its obligations under its own legislation and the international human rights law have however had little, if any effect to the improvement of the human rights situation in the country.
The far-reaching, increasingly repressive and almost unlimited discretionary powers exercised by the Turkish authorities during the state of emergency – now in its 15th month – endanger the general principles of rule of law and human rights safeguards, the ones the state of emergency is designed to protect.
The human rights protection system of the Council of Europe thus represented,  a glimmer of hope for the people of Turkey as it has been traditionally one of the most successful systems in the world protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, which decisions are also binding for Turkey.
Regrettably, the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “ECtHR”), which monitors the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Council of Europe member states has been rejecting the applications related to recent events taking place in Turkey on the ground that the applicants have not exhausted domestic remedies. The Court specifically refers to the need to exhaust “available” domestic remedies, i.e. including the complaint procedure presumably offered through the establishment of the State of Emergency Inquiry Commission (hereinafter “the Commission”), as provided for in Emergency Decree 685.

Brief analysis
The brief analysis in this section argues that the establishment of the Commission cannot be an effective remedy for more than 100,000 dismissed individuals.
In absence of any clear procedure to challenge decisions on their abrupt dismissal, public officials dismissed from office and organizations dissolved by emergency decrees launched either individual or concurrent appeals with administrative bodies (administrative remedy), administrative courts, the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights . The outcome of the appeals has been devastating for hundreds of thousands of families and entire communities across Turkey.
Few administrative appeals have been relatively successful in restoring several individuals in their former positions. Administrative appeals however are not guided by any rules or principles and in no respect can these appeals be regarded as an effective remedy.
In the aftermath of July 15, 2016, both the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR were flooded with individual applications originating from Turkey. 8,308 applications were lodged with the ECtHR against Turkey in 2016, compared to only 2,212 in the previous year [2015].[1] If necessary measures were not taken, having into account that most dismissals have not yet been brought before the ECtHR in the post July 15 context, it was obvious that the sheer volume of applications yet to reach the ECtHR, seriously risked bringing down the entire ECtHR system.
The Venice Commission noted in the above context that both administrative courts and individual application to the Constitutional Court were not available to public officials who were dismissed by Emergency Decrees.[2] Having made this determination, the Venice Commission recommended that the government establish an ad hoc commission to review the State of Emergency measures.[3] The Secretary General of the Council of Europe made a similar recommendation, which was supported by an ad hoc sub-committee established by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.[4]
With the intention to preempt sharp criticism from the Council of Europe resulting from its relentless crackdown on dissent, the government issued Emergency Decree 685,[5] which establishes the Commission.[6]
To illustrate the immediate effect of its issuance, on the same day the Emergency Decree was published (January 23, 2017), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rejected[7] the request to hold an urgent debate on Turkey.[8]
By mid-November 2017 the Commission has received more than 100,000 cases from different occupational groups such as military personnel, police officers, teachers and academics. Since its establishment the Commission has taken no single decision on any of the hundreds of thousands of applications it has received ever since. As a matter of fact, the government is yet to appoint a president to head the Commission.[9]
Even if the Commission begins its work immediately, there will still be doubts regarding its impartiality, just as the judicial system in general. These concerns have been, inter alia, raised by various governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as well as legal and human rights experts. Former judge of the ECtHR Riza Turmen, for instance, has argued  that possible non-transparency of the Commission’s work and appointment of its members create reasonable questions regarding its independence.[10]
The Commission is predetermined to fail in achieving its alleged objectives and serve the interests of justice:
First, the seven members of the Commission are chosen from the same institutions that have decided for the dismissals.[11] The principles of independence and impartiality are thus disregarded from its inception.
Second, even based on the most optimistic estimates and presuming that it performs its work in good faith – given the workload, it will take many years for the seven-member Commission to review hundreds of thousands of applications – that is only one of the subsequent domestic remedies to be exhausted.
Third, for cases reversed by the administrative courts, the appeals or the Constitutional Court, the cycle of exhaustion of domestic remedies will take many more years and those cases will probably never be able to reach the ECtHR, or even their day in court.
Fourth, pursuant to Article 9 of KHK 685, “the Commission shall perform its examinations on the basis of the documents in the files,” which are out of reach of those dismissed. In absence of any knowledge on the entities or groups which were presumably designated by the National Security Council as being “terrorist organizations”, this fact alone wipes-out the opportunity of those dismissed to have any defense, let alone effective defense.
Fifth, the Commission is presumed to work and take its decisions on the basis of information and documents provided by the government, which can decide on a case-by-case basis which documents to disclose. Even if the government would be willing to disclose all relevant documents to the Commission – the later has no authority in reviewing classified documents. Since the dismissals have been argued on basis of terrorist affiliation which undermines, inter alia, national security – most of the documents that the government claims to have played a role in the dismissals, as state secrets, will be out of the reach of the Committee.
The Venice Commission, supporting the idea of an ad hoc body for the review of the emergency measures envisaged that “the essential purpose of that body would be to give individualized treatment to all cases. That body would have to respect the basic principles of due process, examine specific evidence and issue reasoned decisions. This body should be independent, impartial and be given sufficient powers to restore the status quo ante, and/or, where appropriate, to provide adequate compensation. The law should enable for subsequent judicial review of decisions of this ad hoc body. Limits and forms of any compensation may be set by Parliament in a special post-emergency legislation, with due regard to the Constitution of Turkey and its international human-rights obligations.”[12]
In conclusion, the State of Emergency Inquiry Commission will certainly not be able to meet the criteria foreseen by the Venice Commission and the standards adopted in the case-law of the ECtHR. The establishment of the Commission will only serve the immediate interests of the ECtHR and the government of Turkey, not the interests of justice and those hundreds of thousands of individuals. In addition:
The establishment of the Commission is expected to create much more serious consequences. Hundreds of thousands of individuals who have suffered injustice will turn to the ECtHR in several years later as the Commission will not provide any justice. By that time the government would have “acquired” between approximately two to ten years, maybe more. During the same time, hundreds of thousands of people will have suffered tremendously without any available remedy.
During this long period, the applicants not only will be condemned to a “slow death” – they will also continue to bear the label of ‘terrorist’. They shall not be eligible to work in public service and their social security records will show that they were dismissed by an emergency decree.
Based on the complicated procedures related to the Commission, it is expected that individuals who are denied the opportunity to challenge the criminal charges against them for an entire year, will wait before an administrative commission for years and then apply for an administrative judicial review, which, as explained above, has no power to remedy the situation. In short, this is undoubtedly a reversal of the presumption of innocence.

Rule of law in the country
Rule of law within the country has started to be weakened by the government’s policies. According to the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index,[13] Turkey was ranked among the worst 15 out of 113 countries, dropping 8 positions compared to the last year and trailing countries such as Iran, Russia, Guatemala and Myanmar.[14] The Index is calculated taking into consideration different crucial components such as “Constraints on Government Power, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice and Criminal Justice,” and Turkey’s scores are not promising in any of these. Moreover, consecutive reports prepared by the Venice Commission have been pointing out the problems regarding the rule of law. The Venice Commission has published detailed reports and opinions on the situation in Turkey most of which have common points. Especially after the attempted coup in 2016, measures taken in the country failed to meet the requirements of the rule of law such as necessity and proportionality. Additionally, the basic principle of separation of powers is under threat for a long time, risking the independence of judiciary.[15]
The three crucial components of what constitutes a fair trial, namely the defense, the prosecution and the courts, have all collapsed in Turkey in recent years, turning the judicial system into merely an extension of the political authority that thwarts an effective defense and appoints (or better employs) partisan and loyalist prosecutors and judges.
Dismissals of judges in particular have had an adverse and devastating effect on the Turkish judiciary, its independence and the effectiveness of the principle of separation of powers. In the current circumstances, when thousands of judges are detained and imprisoned (close to one-third of judges and prosecutors), it is inconceivable that the remaining judges could reverse any measure declared under the emergency decree laws out of fear of becoming subject to such measures themselves.
The U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report in 2016 has explicitly asserted that the government’s applications have a “chilling effect on judicial independence” especially as regards the politically sensitive cases.[16] Likewise, the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed their concerns that imprisonment and dismissal of officials jeopardize judicial independence, and moreover that new laws tying the judiciary to the executive poses a clear threat to the rule of law.[17] Both organizations are rightfully worried about the newly created appointment system of judges and prosecutors as well as recently established courts with power over politically sensitive investigations.[18]
Similarly, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has indicated that the “selection and appointment process as a whole is highly susceptible to executive manipulation, and likely to be weighted against candidates who are not seen as supportive of the government.” The ICJ has also drawn attention to the criminal charges against judges and prosecutors and specified that many  officials from the judiciary were dismissed because their judgments were conflicting government’s interests. According to the ICJ this amount of interference with the judiciary is clearly against internationally accepted standards.[19] The International Commission of Jurists and other international organizations have determined that the independence of the judiciary has now been eroded to its core in Turkey.[20]
In December 2016, the Board of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) concluded that the Turkish High Council for Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) no longer meets the requirements of the ENCJ, so as to ensure the independence of the Turkish Judiciary. The ENCJ General Assembly accordingly resolved to suspend, with no Council member voting against, the observer status of the Turkish High Council for Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).[21]
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided on April 25, 2017 to reopen the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey until “serious concerns” about respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law “are addressed in a satisfactory manner.”
The above concerns were also voiced by the former chief justice of the Turkish Constitutional Court, Hasim Kilic, who stated that  “Everybody knows the political views of judges and prosecutors, even in the remotest villages of the country. We cannot move forward with such a judiciary,” and he continued “The judiciary is not an instrument of revenge, it is not anyone’s tool to achieve their aims.”[22] Ergun Ozbudun, Professor of Political Science and Constitutional Law, also raised similar concerns when he commented on the proposed constitutional amendment (which was adopted through referendum afterwards) and said “What we have here is the weakening of legislation while the president, with full executive powers, forms a parliament under his influence.” Furthermore, Metin Feyzioglu, head of the Turkish Bar Association, stated that “This is a system that will finish judicial integrity and sovereignty,” reminding that half of the judges are to be appointed by the president.[23]
Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights as well remarked that independence and impartiality of judiciary have started to be eroded and must be redeveloped as soon as possible. He added that “it is in particular the role of the criminal judges of peace that is the most concerning, because these formations have transformed into an instrument of judicial harassment to stifle opposition and legitimate criticism.”[24]
The list of similar reports and statements raising above-mentioned concerns grows everyday thanks to the government’s new actions. In the light of all the above, one can conclude that the judicial system in Turkey has been weakened by the government’s actions, therefore; it is highly likely that judges cannot give verdict against the ruling party’s interests not to face different types of punishments including imprisonment.
There have been cases in the past where the European Court examined the cases substantially even though the domestic remedies were not exhausted, when it was believed that they were not available or not going to be effective. For instance, in Akdivar v. Turkey (1996) case the Court stated that the Court “must take realistic account not only of the existence of formal remedies in the legal system of the Contracting Party concerned but also of the general legal and political context in which they operate as well as the personal circumstances of the applicants.”[25] Hence, merely having the domestic rules providing remedies to the victims is not seen as satisfactory by the ECtHR. We believe the current situation in Turkey as well falls into this category and warrants immediate action by the Court. Hence, the ECtHR should not reject cases on the ground that the applicants could have gone to the domestic authorities from which, with great deal of certainty they will not receive any effective remedy.


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Persecution of Women and Children in Turkey

PERSECUTION OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN TURKEY

After July 15 failed coup attempt, Turkish government accused Fethullah Gulen and his followers for having connection with the failed coup. After death of 245 people failed coup, Turkish authorities started investigating people with any kind of link with the Gulen Movement. Since July 15 of 2016, more than 60,000 people have been arrested. They are all well educated individuals with different backgrounds such as soldiers, lawyers, judges, teachers, engineers and so on. Almost 150,000 people have been dismissed from their governmental jobs. But the most miserable stories are, of course, women and children’s.

Today 17,000 women, 668 babies and children are jailed in Turkey. While some of the children are brought to the prison with their mother, lots of children stays with their relatives or public dorms due to their parents are jailed. Nonetheless, some women imprisoned have serious disease and illnesses, which are exacerbated with the hard for prison conditions.


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Instructions for the Practice of Immigration Act 28 – NORWAY CASE

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PRACTICE OF IMMIGRATION ACT 28 – ASYLUM SEEKERS WHO INDICATE A RISK OF PERSECUTION DUE TO (ADDED) CONNECTION TO THE GÜLEN NETWORK

Iş bu metin Noveç Adalet Bakanlığı marifetiyle düzenlenmiş bir yönetmelik gibi gözükmekte olup; anlaşıldığı üzere, sığınmaya ilişkin ilgili kanunun hususiyle sığınma şartlarını düzenleyen 28. Maddesi çerçevesinde Hizmet hareketi mensupları için ele alıncak yaklaşımı incelemektedir. Buna göre yönetmelikte geçen ifadeler içerisinde dikkat çekmek istediğimiz hususlar aşağıda yer almaktadır:


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