Tell me who your ombudsman is

Tell me who your ombudsman is

What did the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) say in its decision on slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink? It said this: “The approval, by the Supreme Court of Appeals, of the penalty given to Hrant Dink because of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code is a violation of freedom of expression.”

The ECHR did not say this alone. It is also stated in the decision text how Article 301 was used like a weapon against Dink, how the path to his killing was opened with the 301 case and that the state did not take any action to protect Dink.

What business will the institution of the ombudsman undertake?

It will examine, research and make suggestions about all kinds of operations and activities, attitude and conduct of the administration, determining whether they are in “line with the sense of justice based on human rights, as well as their accordance with the law and justice.” The Parliament elected Mehmet Nihat Ömeroğlu to head theis institution. His duty is to research and examine whether the deeds of the administration are in line with the sense of justice based on human rights. Ömeroğlu is a judge. It should be assumed that he understands justice and the law, human rights and the like. However, Ömeroğlu is not such a judge. He is a judge whose signature is below the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the one which the ECHR has declared and publicized as a violation of freedom of expression.

A judge who found an “insult to Turkishness” in the article that Dink wrote for the Armenian diaspora and which said, in short, “Do not dwell on the Turks; instead of that, strengthen your ties with Armenia,” is now the chief public auditor – a person who hunted for an insult among statements that any literate person with a minimum of insight could not conceive of containing an insult. That very person will be the representative of the sense of “justice based on human rights.” He will do his job in the wake of the ECHR’s ruling to declare his decision as contrary to human rights, in other words, as a person whose conception of human rights is much lower than the standards of advanced democracy. As a person whose decision has been registered by an international court as being against human rights, he will audit the public from the point of justice. There is a prerequisite for becoming the chief public auditor. And that is not to be a member of a political party. Ömeroğlu also is not a member of a political party. He meets the requirement in form. At the same time, however, the witness at his son’s wedding was the Prime Minister.

What does his son do? He works at Turkish Airlines (THY). A public enterprise. What is Ömeroğlu’s responsibility? To review possible complaints about public institutions. The law on public auditing also states that the chief public auditor has to act “in accordance with impartiality while performing his duties.”

The prime minister was a witness at his son’s wedding, and his son works for THY. How is Ömeroğlu going to act impartially?

To elect a registered human rights violator, who is also a family friend of Erdoğan, as an impartial person expected to work based on human rights also demonstrates what those 258 deputies understand about democracy and human rights. Tell me who your ombudsman is and I will tell you who you are.

Özgür Mumcu is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published Nov 29. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.