[Blogpost] Turkey’s Humanitarian Crisis Brought The ECtHR Into Disrepute

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In the my last writ entitled “The Post Coup Purge Evolved to The Humanitarian Crisis”I’ve tried to explain why the situation in Turkey have to defined as humanitarian crisis.

In this writ, I’ll try to explain the attitude of The Council of Europe (COE) and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on this humanitarian crisis. As you know, ECtHR is permanent body of The COE which was established as an impartial and independent judicial body to guarantee for all Europeans the rights safeguarded by European Convention on Human Rights and its annexed protocols.

Turkey was invited by The COE to be member in 1949, so that being considered amongst the founder members. Turkey has ratified respectively the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to individual application for its citizens and the compulsory jurisdiction of ECtHR in 1954, 1987 and 1990. So The COE and ECtHR which are the subject of The International Law have obligations against the Turkish citizens, pursuant to the their founding treaties and annexed other codes.

The ECtHR has jurisdiction to decide on the complaints (submitted by individuals or States) concerning violations of the European Convention on Human Rights allegedly committed by a State Party. ECtHR has to protect its impartiality and independence in any circumstances. So The Court can’t bargain with the party states, can’t seek for the political solutions and the interim remedies but unfortunately The ECtHR did do all with Turkey and I’ll tell how did it.

After the failed coup attempt Erdogan Regime firstly targeted the judiciary; in the first place to be 2745, a total of 4238 judges and prosecutors were dismissed. This figure reaches upon 5200 when military judges and prosecutors and the judges of The Court of Accounts are included.

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Source: Bianet English

The Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) dismissed its 2 members (judges Alparslan Altan & Erdal Tercan) solely on ground of ”the information from the social circle” on 9th August 2016.*


Mr. Altan and Mr. Tercan are under arrest since 20th July 2016. Their applications are still pending before the ECtHR

The decision of TCC initiated the all decree dismissals; shortly after the TCC’s decision Turkish Government issued the first three decrees on the 1st September, 2016. With decrees 672, 675 and 677, 50.589 public servants were dismissed. This first group of the decree victims immediately begun to apply the ECtHR because even TCC had dismissed its 2 members without any reasonable evidence, this caused a huge workload defined as tsunami (by a COE staff) on the ECHR.

Mr. Jagland’s game named “The Time Gaining”

10th November 2016: When the tsunami (which was triggered by decree dismissals) came to shore of The ECtHR, The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland immediately visited Ankara and met with Zuhtu Arslan who is chief judge of The TCC.



10th Nov 2016;  Mr. Jagland met with Zuhtu Arslan in Ankara. Mr. Jagland will say months later “It is important the existence of domestic remedy in terms of gaining time..”


12th December 2016: The Venice Commission (which an advisory body of the Council of Europe) suggested special “ad hoc body for reviewing State of Emergency procedures” to be established, in its opinion on “Emergency Decree Laws, Nos 667-676”

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23rd January 2017:  Turkish Government decided to establish suggested “ad hoc body” (named The State of Emergency Procedures Inquiry Commission – SEPIC) with Emergency Decree 685.

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17th May 2017: Members of The SEPIC were appointed by Prime Minister Yıldırım.

12th June 2017 : The ECtHR has declared the application (70478/16) of Gokhan Koksal (who is a teacher dismissed  with a decree) inadmissible for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies. The court dismissed the application for failure to exhaust domestic remedies, finding that Köksal had to use the remedy provided for under Legislative Decree no. 685. The ECtHR dropped similar 12000 applications depending this (Koksal vs Turkey) decision.

4th August 2017 : The TCC dismissed a total of 70,771 applications filed by the dismissed public servants, urging them to complete the procedure by first applying to a Commission.

After all, Mr. Jagland said (on 26th June 2017) “It is important the existence of domestic remedy in terms of gaining time, the commission is starting to work.”

Thus, Mr. Jagland and President Erdogan won the game named “The Time Gaining” by playing concertedly. The COE and The ECtHR bought Erdogan extra-time to continue the persecution that causes a humanitarian crisis in Turkey. Now, 145,000 victims who lost their jobs and right to work and closed 195 media outlets and 3520 entities including universities, private schools, associations, foundations, trade and workers unions, hospitals who have almost no chance of getting their rights back on domestic remedies have to wait at least 10 years to apply for the ECtHR. In regard these facts, we can say that Turkey’s Democrats may have unintentionally helped Erdogan by saying “Not (good) Enough but YES” but the ECHR is deliberately helping him by saying “Not Good but YES!”

I want to finish my writ with law professor Kerem Altıparmak’s words; The 2017 will be remembered as milestone for the ECtHR, such a milestone that the bargains (with governments) win not the justice and human rights.

To be continued..


Categories: Turkey Human Rights Blog

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3 replies


  1. Turkey: ECtHR Asks Turkish Government For Explanation Over The Case Of Abducted Lawyer | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
  2. Turkey/Germany: German Lawyers Criticize ECtHR’s Rejection Of Applications From Turkey | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
  3. Turkey: Newsletter | The Persecution on Turkish Lawyers (5-12 Feb) | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
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