ECtHR failed in response to post-coup cases in Turkey, Human Rights Foundation says

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This photo shows an exterior view of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg on January 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) on Wednesday published a report highlighting the collapse of the rule of law and human rights in Turkey as well as the failure of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to effectively address the issue.

The New York-based watchdog said the ECtHR has failed in its response to human rights violations in prosecutions launched after an attempted coup in 2016.

“More than 33,000 individuals have submitted Turkish human rights cases for consideration by the ECtHR since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown,” the report said. “The majority of these applications have been rejected on the ground that applicants have not yet exhausted domestic remedies; however, this ignores the reality that no viable remedy exists under the current Turkish judicial system, due to a mixture of executive interference and unreasonable court delays.”

“The two primary avenues for domestic remedies would, in theory, be either the Constitutional Court or the State of Emergency [SoE] Inquiry Commission, yet neither offers true access to justice.”

The report pointed out that the Constitutional Court refrained from assessing the constitutionality of decrees made during the state of emergency and ordered the removal of its own members for alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which Erdoğan’s government blames for the failed coup.

“Similarly, the SoE Inquiry Commission, created to review applications of measures undertaken through emergency decree laws, lacks independence, does not follow due process and is unable to offer effective restitution or compensation.”

“In addition to maintaining that Turkey offers viable domestic remedies when that is not the case, it [the ECtHR] has also departed from its well-established mechanism of using the ‘pilot judgment’ procedure to efficiently process repetitive applications of human rights violations by a contracting state.”

The report also called the ECtHR’s decisions relating to arbitrary detention and the disbarring of judges and prosecutors and the dismissal of civil servants under emergency decree laws “controversial.”

The HRF suggested that the court adopt the “pilot judgment” procedure in order to deal with the flood of cases brought before it and as a means by which to pressure Turkey to address its systematic human rights abuses and the violation of its obligations under international law.

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