Turkey’s top court says no gov’t decrees can be issued on property rights

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A recent decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court said government decrees including those issued during a state of emergency that seize people’s assets are against the constitution, a daily reported on Wednesday.

According to a story in the Birgün daily, the top court decision indicated that the seizure of assets and properties of dissenters who were targeted by government decrees are against the constitution as the ruling said no government decrees can be issued on property rights without a trial that requires a verdict.

The Constitutional Court decision came after the İstanbul 2nd Civil Court for Intellectual and Industrial Property Rights submitted an objection to the court against government decree No. 556 issued in 1995 on the protection of trademarks, claiming the decree contravened the constitution.

The İstanbul court objected to the decree, saying, “A trademark can be canceled after its owner doesn’t use it for five years without good cause or stops using it for five years uninterruptedly,” and said the right to property is guaranteed by the constitution and cannot be regulated by a decree.

On Tuesday, the Ankara 6th Penal Court of Peace ordered that all assets belonging to the İpek family be transferred to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) over alleged links to the Gülen movement, a social movement inspired by US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Ever since Turkey declared a state of emergency on July 20, the İpek family has been under immense pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government due to alleged links to the Gülen movement.

On Oct. 24, 2015, the government appointed trustees to take over the management of dozens of companies belonging to the İpek family in addition to several media outlets operating under the İpek Media Group, due to their critical stance against the government.

Turkey has already confiscated some TL 12 billion (about $4 billion) in property that belonged to the İpek family as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, according to a statement by Minister for Environment and Urbanization Mehmet Özhaseki on Sept. 1, 2016.

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