CoE says commission hearing victims’ complaints should adhere to ECHtR case law

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Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland.

Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary-General Thorbjørn Jagland has called on Turkish authorities to ensure that a commission that will be set up to hear complaints from people who have been affected by Turkey’s post-coup purge should work independently and on the basis of European Court of Human Rights (ECHtR) case law.

“It is imperative for Turkey and Europe that the judicial safeguards for all those who have been dismissed or are in prison are based on the European Convention on Human Rights [ECHR] and on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights,” Jagland said in a press statement following a meeting with Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, 89,775 people were being held without charge, with an additional 43,885 in pre-trial detention due to their alleged links to the movement.

Dozens of media outlets were closed down while hundreds of companies were seized by the state due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

“The Commission that will be set up in Turkey to go through the cases for those who have been dismissed, organizations that have been closed, schools and news outlets that have been closed, private property that has been confiscated, must work independently and on the basis of the ECHR,” Jagland said.

“The European Court of Human Rights will decide, if it gets complaints, whether this has been a proper domestic remedy. The cases for journalists and parliamentarians that are in pre-trial detention will be dealt with in ordinary Turkish courts. But also these people have the right to complain to the European Court. It will look into whether the Turkish courts have ruled on the basis of the ECHR.”

The press statement said the situation for these people is critical because many have been in pre-trial detention for several months.

“If their cases are not being dealt with soon by the Turkish Constitutional Court, the European Court will probably consider whether this is an effective domestic remedy, and just start dealing with their complaints,” it added.

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