In a new report unveiled on Friday as part of a continuing series that focuses on human rights violations and arbitrariness in the application of the law in Turkey, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has concluded that the rule of law no longer exists in Turkey.
The comprehensive report, titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law,” provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost its meaning in the Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.
The report lists many recent cases showing the ways in which Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his associates in the government manipulate the judiciary through loyalists and partisans. An unprecedented campaign of intimidation against independent judges and prosecutors including unlawful arrests and arbitrary asset seizures was pursued by the political authorities.
“Turkey is no longer a country that is ruled by the law in the sense of a true democracy, but rather is governed at the whim and emotions of one man and his thugs,” Abdullah Bozkurt, the president of the SCF, has said.
“Erdoğan weaponized … the criminal justice system to persecute his critics and opponents, and staffed all key positions with partisans,” he added.
The report shows Turkey is in breach of its international obligations under existing treaties, highlighting recent cases of how a carrot-and-stick approach has paralyzed the independent judiciary.
In addition to jailing thousands of judges and prosecutors, Turkey has also imprisoned hundreds of human rights defenders and lawyers, making it extremely difficult for detainees to access a lawyer, in violation of due process and fair trial protections under the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedure.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) remains the last beacon of hope for millions of Turks who feel their fundamental rights were violated. SCF urged the Strasbourg court to take up cases in an emergency procedure and pilot judgment framework to issue landmark rulings to set the bar on protecting human rights in Turkey.
“As the rule of law is longer applicable in Turkey, the requirement of the court for the complainants to exhaust domestic remedies before filing a case with the ECtHR has become an additional burden on victims. Turkey is going through an extraordinary period and must be declared a special case and dealt with in an urgent manner, ” said SCF. (Stockholm Center for Freedom)