The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has refused an application from a Turkish teacher who alleges that he was wrongly dismissed with a state of emergency degree, saying the educator must first apply to Turkey’s State of Emergency Investigation Commission for the purposes of first exhausting all domestic political avenues.
The European court rejected an individual application from a dismissed teacher from Erzurum, Gökhan Köksal, on June 12, on the grounds that he did not first apply to the much-maligned State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission.
The rule is expected to set a precedent at the ECHR amid thousands of applications from public officials.
Köksal, who was suspended from his post on July 25 following the post-coup measures and dismissed on Sept. 1, 2016, with state of emergency decree No. 672 appealed to the European court, arguing that the dismissals were against the European Convention on Human Rights.
Rejecting the individual application of Köksal, ECHR pointed to the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission which was established to receive the complaints of tens of thousands of people who have been affected by the ongoing state of emergency rule, especially those related to the dismissal of public officials, the closure of institutions and imprisonments.
The commission was established on Jan. 23 with a decree law in response to international pressure, but the panel only announced its seven-member board on May 16 and has not even begun to receive applications.
The formation of the commission was seen as an attempt to reduce the amount of criticism from European institutions, as decrees issued under the state of emergency rules are closed to appeal and thus closed to any domestic legal remedies.
The right to individual application to the Constitutional Court has also been ruled out since the high court has ruled that decrees issued by the government during state of emergency rule are outside its remit.
Court head Zühtü Arslan stated on April 25 that there were over 100,000 individual applications that have been made to the top court, more than 75,000 of which consist of cases related to the state of emergency.
The applications to the high court were originally granted in order to ease the high amount of application to the ECHR.
Turkey is the subject of the highest number of cases at the ECHR following dismissals in public sector in the wake of the July 2016 failed coup attempt. According to recent data, there are currently 23,000 applications filed against Turkey at the court. Some 17,630 of those applications were filed in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt.
Applications from Turkey make up 24.7 percent of the 93,150 applications on the ECHR’s agenda. The country is followed by Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Russia
Similarly, the ECHR decided to prioritize the case of the jailed journalists and executives of Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet in April along with jailed journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy.
Last month, imprisoned journalist
Ahmet Şık also applied to the court demanding his immediate release, citing a court ruling from three years ago stating that his rights had been violated.