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NEWS

Fair Trials joins with other human rights organisations to condemn the ‘permanent’ state of emergency laws in Turkey

admin - August 29, 2018

Image result for turkey protests 2018Fair Trials has joined with 43 other human rights organisations in a joint statement to send the message that ‘A permanent state of emergency by any name is no substitute for respecting human rights’. The statement condemns new laws which effectively make the state of emergency permanent in Turkey, and calls on the Turkish government to withdraw the legislation.

 

After a failed coup attempt in 2016, the Government of Turkey declared a state of emergency, meaning that the Government could rule by decree with little scrutiny or checks on its power. At the end of July 2018, the state of emergency was finally ended, however, rather than being cause for celebration, there is serious cause for concern. Since formally ending the state of emergency, Turkey has passed new laws in the name of ‘counter terrorism’. These new laws effectively mirror many of the powers the Government had under the state of emergency, thereby normalising powers that are only supposed to be used in extraordinary, and the most dangerous of situations. Amongst these new laws are powers which seriously threaten fair trial rights and the independence of the judiciary.

Some of the laws include:

  • The extension of detention without charge to up to 12 days via amendment of Turkey's Anti-Terrorism law;
  • The renewal of arbitrary authority to dismiss individuals from academic, public and judicial service, and authority to confiscate the passports of those dismissed;
  • The relaxation of judicial review of the cases of individuals in pre-trial detention, from requiring in-person or video presentation of the detainee in court every 30 days, to requiring visual review only every 90 days.

State of emergency powers are there so that Governments can protect people in dangerous times, not so that they can persecute anyone they see as a threat to their political grasp on power, or to consolidate authoritarian rule. Yet since the failed coup attempt, Turkey has been using these extraordinary powers to silence and criminalise political opponents, human rights activists, journalists, academics and anyone who is critical of President Recep Erdoğan’s regime.

For example, earlier this year the Chair of Amnesty Turkey, Taner Kılıç, and Director of Amnesty Turkey, İdil Eser, were arrested on charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’, simply because they were speaking out about the human rights abuses occurring in the country. After an international campaign, both have since been released from pre-trial detention, but for those who aren’t fortunate enough to have international organisations demanding their release on the world stage, the reality is stark. It is estimated that over 160,000 people have been arrested since the failed coup attempt, and the damage done to the independence of the judiciary means that many of them won’t get a fair trial.

Institutionalising the degradation of the judiciary by passing laws that allow the arbitrary dismissal of judges to continue is a long-term threat to human rights. If Turkey's government wishes to be recognized as a responsible state that upholds human rights, it must commit to ending the specific practices and policies that violate those rights. 

Read the full statement here.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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