The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on Tuesday that Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights by detaining 167 judges and prosecutors after a failed 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, holding that Turkey is to pay each applicant 5,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages.
The ECtHR ruled in the case Sevinç and Others v. Türkiye that the pretrial detention of the 135 applicants “had not taken place in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law.”
In the case of Moral and Others v. Türkiye, the Strasbourg court said the grounds for the 32 applicants’ detention were “not of a nature” to constitute “reasonable suspicion.”
With this ruling, along with the rulings in the cases of Turan and Others v. Türkiye, Acar and Others v. Türkiye, Ataman and Others v. Türkiye, Bayram and Others v. Türkiye, Geleş and Others v. Türkiye and Ulusoy and Others v. Türkiye, the number of judges and prosecutors whose applications have been upheld by the ECtHR in their cases against Turkey has risen to 847.
The ruling follows a letter from four European judges associations to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, EU High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić and Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović.
The signatories of the letter — Edith Zeller, president of the Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ); Duro Sessa, president of the European Association of Judges (EAJ); Tamara Trotman, president of Judges for Judges; and Filipe César Marques, president of Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL) — denounced the disregard for the rule of law in Turkey and called for the immediate release and reinstatement of the illegally dismissed judges and prosecutors.
“How can any citizen expect and hope that his or her case will be heard before an independent and impartial judge, when judges can be dismissed, detained and brought to the verge of existence by the executive’s grip,” the letter said.
Members of the Turkish judiciary had been arrested after the failed coup as part of a mass crackdown on the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan blames for the coup attempt. Gülen and the movement deny any involvement.
Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.