Turkey’s first police union faces ‘police counterwork’

Turkey’s first police union faces ‘police counterwork’

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s first police union faces ‘police counterwork’

Police sydicate members say many appointments in the institution are illegal and the number of suicides within the staff have increased tremendously. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Police officers attempting to establish a union in Turkey face an uphill battle as their official application was rejected and a decision is made to open an investigation against the applicants.

Turkey’s Police Directorate announced yesterday that two inspectors were appointed to investigate those behind a union known as Emniyet-Sen on the grounds of Turkish legal regulations and international treaties.

“Security Force staff cannot form a union or be a member of any union,” the statement read.

The 22nd article of the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
and the 11th article of the European Convention on Human Rights were referred to in the statement.

The right to form unions
Both articles secure the right for association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions, however, it is stated that “this article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on members of the armed forces and of the police in their exercise of this right.”

Spokesperson for Emniyet-Sen, Abdurrahman Yılmaz, claims the union is legally founded and protected under the European Convention, adding that it is the first union formed for policemen in Turkey’s history.

“We will file a criminal complaint against the Police Directorate who kicked off an investigation claiming a police union was illegal. Emniyet-Sen now has 31 members and no legal notice has reached us yet,” he told the Daily News yesterday.

“Personnel policy of the Turkish Police has collapsed. Many appointments are illegal and the number of suicides committed by police staff has reached the number of police killed on duty,” he said.

Despite obstacles in Turkey’s internal law, the international treaties let a police-union be founded in Turkey, Yılmaz said.

“There are unions in every European country and there is even an umbrella organization called [The European Confederation of Police] EuroCOP,” he said.

Meanwhile, Aziz Çelik, an academic from Kocaeli University’s Labor Economics and Industrial Relations Department said it was a fundamental right of police staff to form a union and the Security General Directorate is blatantly ignoring world practices by misusing the international treaties.

The European Confederation of Police, known more commonly as EuroCOP, is an umbrella organization for 35 police unions and staff organization based in Luxembourg. They placed their support behind Turkish police in a written statement sent to the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

“EuroCOP would strongly support the right of Turkish Police officers to form a union. A properly set up union is the best way to protect and develop the terms and conditions of police officers,” the statement read.