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Turkey extends tenure of state of emergency commission for another year

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The tenure of a commission set up by the Turkish government to examine complaints from people who were adversely affected by government decrees during a state of emergency (OHAL) in Turkey declared following a failed coup in 2016 has been extended for another year, according to Turkish media reports.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the failed coup on July 15, 2016 that remained in effect until July 19, 2018.

The commission, known as the OHAL commission, was normally serve for two years and conclude all complaints filed; however, the commission will have served for five years with the new extension, leading to criticism that its existence delays people’s access to the justice system.

During the state of emergency, the AKP issued a number of government decrees, known as KHKs, through which more than 130,000 public servants including academics, politicians, teachers, doctors, officials, businessmen, artists and journalists were purged due to their real or alleged connections to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of being behind the failed coup. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

Critics say the OHAL commission was established to prevent purge victims from directly applying to courts because they are expected to first challenge their expulsion from state jobs at the OHAL commission.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights activist and a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who frequently brings problems faced by purge victims to the floor of parliament, expressed frustration over the extension of the tenure of the OHAL commission in a tweet on Friday.

“Can you take a look at this scandal? Tens of thousands of people who were subjected to tyranny have been unable to access a court for 4.5 years. This commission, which is in violation of the constitution, prevents people from seeking justice,” Gergerlioğlu tweeted.

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