Appeals commission established for state of emergency actions
AA photoTurkey’s government has created a new commission to receive applications regarding the ongoing state of emergency as part of four emergency rule decrees that will also reduce possible detention durations from 30 days to seven.
The new commission was formed on Jan. 22 ahead of a critical debate on Turkey at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The motion for an emergency meeting on Turkey failed to get enough votes at PACE’s 2017 Winter Session on Jan. 23.
Decrees 682, 683, 684 and 685, which were prepared in line with decisions taken by the cabinet when it convened on Jan. 2 under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, now entered into force after being published in the Official Gazette.
According to the new decrees, a “State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission” has been established to evaluate and make decisions about applications related to operations made within the scope of the decree laws.
Applications to the commission will be made by the ministries of interior and justice, along with the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters following a cabinet meeting on Jan. 23.
The commission will receive applications about removals or dismissals from public service and education institutions, as well as the closure of associations, foundations, trade unions, federations, confederations, private health institutions, private education institutions, higher education institutions and foundations, private radio and television organizations, newspapers and magazines, news agencies, publishing houses and distribution channels.
The commission will consist of seven members, three of whom will be appointed by the prime minister, one by the Justice Ministry, one by the Interior Ministry, and two by the HSYK.
Those who have been removed from public service, from professions or organizations, as well as those who have been suspended, may also apply to the institution where they last worked.
The commission’s term will be two years, and members are expected to issue around 100,000 applications about the decree decisions within their term.
The commission is entitled to demand any information and documents from public institutions and judicial authorities except documents subject to confidentiality as part of an investigation or others classified as state secrets. Public institutions and judicial authorities are obliged to provide the demanded information to the commission within the scope of its duties immediately and to facilitate any inquiries.
According to the new decrees, 367 more people were dismissed from a number of public institutions and organizations, while 124 people were returned to their posts.
The Council of Europe was concerned about the risk of increasing the number of appeals at the European Court of Human Rights due to harsh state of emergency measures, raising concern about disproportionate measures taken by decree laws because the state of emergency practices were closed to domestic remedies.
In addition, the duration of custody, which was extended to 30 days with a previous decree, was reduced to seven days, although the regulation will not be applied to people who are already in custody. The new decree law also abolished an earlier measure of denying access to lawyers for five days.
The government issued the new decree laws in a bid to restore fundamental rights under the state of emergency, after PACE moved to degrade Turkey’s status and reopen its monitoring process, as was the case in the 1990s.
PACE was set to decide on Jan. 23 whether to put a call for an urgent debate onto the agenda of a general assembly convention on Jan. 26, but the bureau has now canceled plans to do so.
A report by Ingebjørg Godskesen and Marianne Mikko, the co-rapporteurs of PACE, will be submitted to the PACE General Assembly conventions in late April or in June within the context of post-monitoring dialogue. PACE might decide to discuss Turkey over the presentation of the report.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chairperson Levent Gök criticized the establishment for the state of emergency commission for seeking to obstruct the legal process leading to an application to the Constitutional Court.
“The reason for this commission to be established is to cut individual applications to the Constitution Court, the number of which is around 80,000 to 100,000,” Gök said Jan. 23.
“The Constitutional Court does not have the capacity to meet all these applications. Therefore, the commission appears to have been created to prevent applications from being made to the Constitutional Court,” Gök added.
Opposition Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen also criticized the decree law referring to the PACE’s decision.
“This regulation which was made just prior to a critical decision by PACE about Turkey is to impose on us a choice between the lesser of two evils,” Bilgen said.
“This does not provide permanent democracy for Turkey’s democracy. It is an operation to create a perception abroad that Turkey will evolve along a better road,” he added.