Judiciary defunct, free speech curbed in Turkey: German MFA report

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Turkey’s judiciary is mostly dysfunctional, and fundamental rights granted by its constitution have largely been undermined, a confidential report on the country by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, Deutsche Welle Türkçe reported on Wednesday.

The report, for which DW Türkçe cites German news agency dpa-AFX as the source, provides information for German immigration authorities to decide on asylum cases from a particular country.

The report defines the situation of the judiciary in Turkey as “largely dysfunctional.” Turkish judges are under political sway, and jurists who defy it are punished either by expulsion from the judiciary or banishment to a less desirable location, according to the report.

A widespread crackdown on government critics showcases this political influence, the report indicates, saying that even “public criticism of the actions of the Turkish security forces in the Kurdish regions of south-eastern Turkey” could constitute the basis for terror charges.

The report states that supporters of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen accused by Turkey of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup and designated as a terrorist organization, must expect legal persecution.

The report underlines that subscribing to certain media or using a particular bank or special communication app are sufficient evidence for the country’s courts to convict someone of terrorism over Gülen ties.

“It can be assumed that Turkish authorities are spying on opponents of the government, including in particular PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] and Gülen supporters, abroad, as well as observing the activities of associations registered in Germany,” the report said.

The report also mentions recent regulations on social media and states that conventional media has synchronized itself with the government.

Nearly 10,800 Turks had applied for asylum in Germany in 2019, according to official figures. Half of these applicants received protection.

Anyone who expresses or acts critical of the government in Turkey quickly gets into difficulties, according to the report by the German ministry.

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