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Venice Commission: Turkey’s state of emergency measures went too far

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The Council of Europe’s (COE) expert body on legal and constitutional affairs, the Venice Commission, on Friday adopted an opinion stating that Turkey has gone too far with emergency measures after acknowledging that the country had faced a dangerous armed conspiracy.

According to a press release from the commission’s legal experts, Turkey had good reason to declare a state of emergency, but the measures went beyond what the Turkish Constitution and international law allow.

The commission formulated the opinion upon a request by the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Directing attention to a massive purge in Turkey, the Venice Commission statement said that “collective dismissals did not refer to verifiable evidence, related to each individual case.” The commission also pointed out that the speed of the purge gives the impression that the long lists of dismissals “were not accompanied even by a minimum of procedural safeguards.” The EU’s distinguished legal body also urged a judicial review of the dismissals, stating that the current method leads to “a strong appearance of arbitrariness.”

According to the Venice Commission, the terrorist connections, as far as the public servants who are sympathetic to the Gülen movement or other organizations that are deemed “terrorist,” are “too loosely defined and did not require a meaningful connection with such organizations.”

Moreover, the commission also pointed out that even if some members of the Gülen movement ¨network¨ participated in a failed coup on July 15, that should not be used to extend criminal and disciplinary liability to all those who had some contact with the network in the past.

The Turkish government holds the Gülen movement responsible for plotting the botched coup of July 15 and has been conducting a massive purge since day after the putsch.

Questioning the power of the Constitutional Court to conduct judicial review, the Venice Commission called for the creation of an independent ad hoc body for the examination of individual cases of dismissals, subject to subsequent judicial review.

In Turkey, two judges of the highest court of the country, the Constitutional Court, were arrested following July 15 as part of the unprecedented purge.

The Venice Commission also criticized the long custody period, up to 30 days, without judicial review in Turkey as well as the limitations placed on lawyers.

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