New state of emergency commission in Turkey receives cool response
Oya Armutçu – ANKARAThe government’s recent decree amending legal regulations during state of emergency rule, including reducing the maximum duration of detention without charge and the establishment of a state of emergency commission, has prompted a cautious response from legal experts.
“As opposed to the way the commission was founded, the fact that the commission has agreed to open [domestic remedies for] administrative justice is a facilitator for access to justice. That’s why it is important to monitor the implementation,” said former European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judge Rıza Türmen.
His comments came after the government issued new decree laws. According to the decrees, a new commission has been founded to receive appeals against state of emergency operations and the maximum duration of pre-charge detention has been reduced to seven days, with an option to extend the period by seven more days.
The decision announced on Jan. 22, ahead of a critical debate on Turkey at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), was interpreted as a move to assuage concerns of the Council of Europe and make it postpone its debate on Turkey.
“It would not be right to comment now. When the ECHR receives a case on this issue, it will choose a pilot case and review how it was implemented,” Türmen stated.
He also underlined that the state of emergency continued to violate the right to access justice, as decrees remain closed to any judicial remedies.
“It is clear that the commission will not be independent, as five of its seven members will be appointed by the prime minister, one will be appointed by the justice Minister and one will be appointed by the interior minister,” Türmen said.
“So there might be problems stemming from the way this commission has been founded,” he added.
Regarding the regulation that reduces maximum pre-charge detention times to seven days, Türmen said it was a “positive regulation,” but the maximum period still contradicts with ECHR criteria that stipulate four days as the maximum detention duration.
“There was a case at the ECHR: Aksoy vs. Turkey, based on a ruling made under the state of emergency back in 1996. Turkey had then also suspended Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which regulates the right to liberty. The court ruled that the 14 days of detention without judicial supervision was exceptionally long and was thus was in breach of convention,” he said.
“In accordance with this ruling, I believe the latest regulation on detention times is not sufficient for the ECHR,” he added.
65,000 cases to be sent to commission
Around 65,000 individual applications have been submitted to the Constitutional Court in relation to state of emergency rulings in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt. The court is expected to deliver these files to the newly established commission. Based on the fact there have been more than 90,000 dismissals from public institutions with state of emergency decrees, and more than 10,000 closures of institutions, the application number is expected to exceed 200,000.