Why Turkey’s human rights violations won’t end up in court – Washinton Post

16:00 • 12.06.18



By Filiz Kahraman


Turkey recently called snap elections to be held June 24, even as it extended the state of emergency for a seventh time since a failed coup attempt in 2016. And in the wake of a 2017 constitutional referendum that vested extraordinary powers in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, observers warn that Turkey is on the fast track to authoritarianism.

While not part of the European Union, Turkey is member of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The court retains the force of law over contracting states and has previously ruled on contentious issues from prisoners’ right to vote to the treatment of terrorism suspects in custody. However, since the coup attempt, it rejected several applications regarding systemic human rights abuses and the undemocratic process in the 2017 Turkish referendum. Why the change?


Research on the court illustrates how avoiding this political crisis could affect the future of democracy and protection of human rights in Turkey and beyond.


Why the April 2017 referendum results were contested


International observers and domestic opposition groups raised serious concerns about the April 2017 referendum. Erdogan, running up against term limits, introduced a system in which he could serve three consecutive five-year terms. The result was an unparalleled presidential system, granting sweeping executive powers over the parliament and judiciary. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe observed that the amendments represent “a dangerous step backwards in the constitutional democratic tradition of Turkey.”

The vote itself raised several red flags. The referendum was conducted under the state of emergency. Many journalists and members of parliament were jailed in the weeks before the vote, and the media increasingly controlled by Erdogan gave little voice to the remaining opposition. And, on the day of the referendum, the election board lifted a requirement that the ballot envelopes be double-stamped. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe pointed out that this curious last-minute decision “undermined an important safeguard against fraud” and concluded that the referendum took place on an “unlevel playing field.”

The small margin (51 percent) by which the “yes” vote won further raised suspicions about the possible impact of the unstamped votes. Soon after the elections, the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party cried foul.

 

Why the court rejected Turkey’s referendum case

The ECtHR’s convention refers to member states’ obligations to “hold free elections at reasonable intervals.” The court, however, contrived to dismiss the case: A referendum, it contended, is a different matter than an election.


The court’s reasoning is consistent with its previous case law, including a recent ruling regarding a Scottish independence referendum. The judges turned down the opportunity to reconsider their stance on referendums, despite other organizations’ questioning the Turkish referendum’s legitimacy.


In June’s snap elections, Turkish voters will again be casting their ballots during a state of emergency. A leading presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, is in jail. Unstamped envelopes will still be accepted as valid.

 

A changing approach to human rights violations in Turkey

The referendum is not the only Turkish claim on which the court has passed. Since the July 2016 coup attempt, 150,000 public service workers have been banned from their jobs by executive decrees. Under pressure from the Council of Europe, Turkey created an ad hoc commission that began to review applications related to the state of emergency in July 2017. The ECtHR dismissed the applications regarding the purges and directed them to the ad hoc commission. The special commission, however, is directly under executive control and is unlikely to adjudicate impartially. Legal scholars estimate that it may take as many as 10 years for an applicant to exhaust domestic remedies — a requirement before seeking justice at the ECtHR.

 

The ECtHR has not always been reticent in the face of systemic human rights violations. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the court adjudicated on thousands of grave human rights violations committed against the Kurdish population in southeast Turkey, including forced disappearances and village burnings.


In a landmark 1996 case, the court lifted the exhaustion of domestic remedies requirement in light of the state’s condoning of or complicity in the crimes committed against the applicants. Had it applied the same logic to the post-coup-attempt cases, tens of thousands of cases could have been tried.


Why might the ECtHR be avoiding hot issues?

Recent research shows that the ECtHR’s retrenchment on Turkey is part of a larger trend. The court is less inclined to hold states responsible for new forms of human rights violations for two important reasons.


First, the court’s case law has grown exponentially in the past few decades. To reduce its caseload, the ECtHR has undergone several structural changes and encouraged states to address systemic violations themselves. However, the number of cases from Turkey repeatedly ranked one of the highest and Turkey remained a top violator. In 2016, cases from Turkey ranked second-highest, accounting for 16 percent of the court’s docket, with some 12,600 cases.


The court’s efforts to manage its docket may be coming at the expense of human rights. Reports by the European Union, Council of Europe institutions and international human rights organizations indicate that human rights violations have been occurring at an alarming rate during the state of emergency, that elections are not taking place in a democratic environment and that the recent purges and reforms have undermined judicial independence. Any presumption that human rights issues may be adjudicated in Turkey by independent tribunals within a reasonable time clearly contradicts these reports.

Second, the ECtHR is under mounting political pressure. Alongside outright noncompliance and public outcries from increasingly authoritarian countries such as Turkey, Russia and Hungary, the ECtHR has been under fire by liberal democracies as well. The United Kingdom, in particular, has been an avid critic of the court, with threats to leave it altogether. The court started to receive negative coverage in the British mediaand threats from politicians in response to the 2005 ruling on prisoners’ right to vote. And, indeed, the ECtHR is now showing more deference to liberal democracies, especially Britain, to appease backlash against its decisions. Its response to the recent case law from Turkey indicates that threats by authoritarian and populist leaders may have a similar effect on the court.


With the rise of right-wing populism across Europe, such changes in the court could undermine the international human rights system built in the aftermath of World War II. Refusing to adjudicate can carry as much weight as a ruling itself.

 





Загрузка...

LATEST NEWSAll Today news

15:57 • 25/06

EaP countries willing to accelerate EU-Armenia deal - Ashotyan

15:25 • 25/06

Adele 'starts work on new music as she prepares to release fourth album at Christmas 2019'

15:16 • 25/06

Inventors accidentally create new phone battery capable of holding ‘twice as much power’

15:02 • 25/06

PACE appoints new president

14:14 • 25/06

Russian, Iranian leaders praise Erdogan’s success in snap elections

13:55 • 25/06

Jared Kushner rips Mahmoud Abbas and says he will unveil Mideast peace plan 'soon' 

13:34 • 25/06

Former Armenian mayor charged with embezzling vehicles for Artsakh Army

13:00 • 25/06

Oil prices drop on OPEC's output deal

12:46 • 25/06

France’s Macron says EU faces migration crisis as Merkel gives up on finding solution

12:13 • 25/06

Yerevan residents demand mayor’s resignation

11:21 • 25/06

Time for ‘Armenia-style peaceful revolution' – Serj Tankian

10:03 • 25/06

Two Armenians win seats in Turkey's parliament

09:50 • 25/06

WC 2018: Poland 0-3 Columbia

09:43 • 25/06

Trump calls for deportations without judicial process

09:14 • 25/06

Turkey's Erdogan wins new presidential term

15:13 • 23/06

Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul dies at 54

15:04 • 23/06

Prime Minister Pashinyan issues birthday greetings to President  

14:53 • 23/06

Armenian parliament official calls for congressional attention to US helicopters' sale to Azerbaijan

14:17 • 23/06

Azerbaijani troops attempt infiltration through Nagorno-Karabakh's eastern border

13:24 • 23/06

Armenian president celebrating 65th birth anniversary today

12:49 • 23/06

 Now that’s a man cave! 65ft-deep underground cave in Armenian village in Daily Mail’s spotlight

11:51 • 23/06

Zhoghovurd: Stepanakert airport to open 'sooner or later'

11:15 • 23/06

Boeing 747 forced to make emergency landing because of overheating cows  

11:09 • 23/06

ANCA calls for congressional inquiry into Azerbaijan deploying US-made helicopters

10:57 • 23/06

Armenian contract serviceman found dead

10:47 • 23/06

Turkey’s Erdogan sheds light on new presidential system

10:18 • 23/06

Trump says North Korea still 'extraordinary threat'

19:04 • 22/06

Distant account opening and servicing now available at Ardshinbank

12:46 • 22/06

Squash Perspectives in Armenia

18:16 • 21/06

Intel boss resigns over relationship

18:11 • 21/06

Italy warns EU partners on migrant deal ahead of key summit

17:47 • 21/06

Armenia condemns Turkish-Azerbaijani economic blockade – parliament vice speaker

17:03 • 21/06

Janet Jackson found joy in motherhood

16:23 • 21/06

EU's Mogherini hails peaceful political transition in Armenia  

15:47 • 21/06

EU reaffirms support to Karabakh peace  

14:47 • 21/06

Ucom offers special sale for Samsung J and S–class smartphones

14:41 • 21/06

Armenia second country on CIS poverty index

13:57 • 21/06

Armenia condemns Azerbaijan’s war rhetoric  

13:32 • 21/06

Tandilyan promises ‘revised law’ on funded pensions

12:49 • 21/06

Erdogan says ‘may seek coalition if fails to get majority’

12:37 • 21/06

Russia welcomes US pullout from UN Human Rights Council

12:12 • 21/06

Armenia’s social welfare minister 'not to step down' despite controversies over pension reforms

11:45 • 21/06

Azerbaijan 'prepared to attack Karabakh', says defense minister

11:28 • 21/06

Armenia’s minister of health congratulates doctors on Medical Workers' Day

11:03 • 21/06

Ronaldo knocks Marocco out of World Cup

10:52 • 21/06

Spurned girlfriend gatecrashes her boyfriend's wedding to his new love - wearing her own bridal gown

10:41 • 21/06

Trump signs executive order to end family separations

10:23 • 21/06

Zhoghovurd: Foreign minister ‘openly sabotaging' Pashinyan?

09:32 • 21/06

MSF staff 'used local prostitutes' in Africa

09:10 • 21/06

Algeria goes offline for high school exams

18:20 • 20/06

Zohrab Mnatsakanayan briefs AGBU director on EU-Armenia agenda

17:46 • 20/06

Democratic Artsakh can never be part of authoritarian Azerbaijan – Armenian parliament speaker

17:11 • 20/06

US expects North Korea to return troop remains in coming days

16:55 • 20/06

Armenian president appoints new chief of peacekeeping forces

16:41 • 20/06

EU to impose counter-tariffs on US imports

16:27 • 20/06

Right to self-determination crucial to Nagorno-Karabakh - parliament vice speaker

15:55 • 20/06

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains obstacle to stability in region – EU report

15:30 • 20/06

Armenian prime minister backs plan for electoral reforms

14:57 • 20/06

Amazing footage shows snake hunter save alligator from python's death grip

14:35 • 20/06

Earmarked food for soldiers found in Manvel Grigoryan's Artsakh compound  

13:47 • 20/06

Eva Longoria gives birth to her first child with husband José Baston

13:42 • 20/06

Melania Trump hosts Queen Letizia for tea as US President meets Spanish King

13:29 • 20/06

Russian-Armenian artist Yevgeniy Vakhtangov dies

12:25 • 20/06

Armenian parliament approves mandatory funded pension system

11:41 • 20/06

Turkey's denial of 1915 events ‘highly condemnable’ – parliament official  

11:01 • 20/06

European court fines Turkey over refusal to appoint woman as security guard

10:49 • 20/06

Israel welcomes United States' courageous to pull out from UN Human Rights Council

10:41 • 20/06

Scholarships and Armenian Genocide education included in state budget due to Portantino’s leadership

10:17 • 20/06

Canada approves recreational use of marijuana

09:40 • 20/06

Mice chew up cash worth Rs 12 lakh in Assam ATM

09:32 • 20/06

2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe launched with 523 horses on tap

09:25 • 20/06

US quits UN human Rights Council, saying it’s anti-Israel

09:12 • 20/06

France and Germany agree on common Eurozone plan

17:56 • 19/06

New Armenian government’s program deserves intn’l support - Alex Johnon’s article in The Hill

17:28 • 19/06

IT sector good platform 'to revise emigration models’ – Nikol Pashinyan

16:54 • 19/06

Perth Zoo has farewels world's oldest Sumatran Orangutan

16:30 • 19/06

Ex-army general faces criminal charges after being stripped of parliamentary immunity

15:51 • 19/06

Armenian police seize trucks loaded with food for soldiers

14:44 • 19/06

Emilia Clarke says goodbye to Game Of Thrones  

14:19 • 19/06

Azerbaijan shoots down Armenian drone in Artsakh

14:05 • 19/06

Inside America's Armageddon bunkers: Pictures show once secret doomsday hideouts built to withstand a nuclear apocalypse

13:43 • 19/06

Armenian parliament strips notorious lawmaker of immunity  

13:00 • 19/06

Aznavour delays comeback from fall

12:51 • 19/06

Turkey's Erdogan vows 'third nuclear power plant' plan

12:20 • 19/06

Armenia's prosecutor general asks parliament to strip former army general of immunity

12:02 • 19/06

Fewer Armenians seek asylum in Europe - report

11:41 • 19/06

Zhamanak: Armenia-Artsakh relations 'in interstate domain'

10:57 • 19/06

Garo Paylan: I am happy for Armenia and ready to assist in future dialogue with Turkey  

10:17 • 19/06

Apple fined for misleading customers in Australia

10:01 • 19/06

Croatia send striker home for refusing to play

09:52 • 19/06

Russians launch giant Soyuz spacecraft over World Cup city

09:28 • 19/06

North Korea leader visits China after Trump summit

09:12 • 19/06

Trump plans to reclaim America's spot as 'world's greatest spacefaring nation'

18:24 • 18/06

Audi chief arrested in Germany over diesel scandal

18:18 • 18/06

John Travolta mob film gets whacked by critics

17:38 • 18/06

Nikol Pashinyan calls for comprehensive probe into former army general's criminal case  

16:52 • 18/06

Turkey opens natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan

13:21 • 18/06

Bulgaria ratifies EU-Armenia agreement

12:32 • 18/06

First tourism information center opens in Yerevan

11:46 • 18/06

Bitcoin 'bringing internet to halt'