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‘Right to a fair trial’ most violated right in Turkey, top court statistics show

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Statistics on individual applications filed at Turkey’s Constitutional Court over the past eight-and-a-half years show that the “right to a fair trial” has been the most violated right in the country during this period of time.

The top court released statistics on individual petitions filed at the court between Sept. 23, 2012 and March 31, 2021.

The court found that the applicant’s right to a fair trial had been violated in 62.9 percent of the applications, corresponding to 9,103 rulings out of 14,204 rights violation rulings made by the court. It was followed by violation of the right to own property with 19.3 percent and freedom of expression with 4.2 percent. The least violated right was freedom of conscience and religion, accounting for 0.1 percent of the court’s violation decisions.

The top court received the highest number of applications in 2016 with 80,756 petitions, when Turkey experienced a coup attempt, following which the country’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government imposed a two-year-long state of emergency.

Following the coup attempt, the AKP government launched a massive crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, which resulted in the imprisonment of thousands of people on bogus terrorism or coup charges. The government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs through executive decrees on the grounds that they had links to terror groups.

The court received the second highest number of applications in 2019 when 42,971 petitions were filed at the court, followed by 2017 with 40,530, then by 2020 with 40,402 applications.

The top court has concluded 265,300 applications out of more than 308,000 filed in this period. In 0.3 percent of the applications, the court ruled that there was no rights violation. The court, however, ruled that there was at least one rights violation in 5.4 percent of the applications, meaning that there was a rights violation in 14,204 of the applications reviewed and concluded by the court.

The court rejected 4.6 percent of the applications on the grounds that documents were missing, while the court found 89.2 percent of the applications “unacceptable,” meaning that the applicant was not the subject of any rights violation.

Some 20,000 individual applications were filed at the Constitutional Court annually before 2016; however, the applications have not dropped below 38,000 over the past five years.

The AKP government and its leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are being widely accused of silencing dissent, prosecuting government critics and eroding the independence of the judiciary, which has led to widespread human rights violations.

Individual applications at Turkey’s top court became possible following the approval of constitutional amendments in a 2010 referendum.

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