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The AKP’s ECHR test

By Aydın Engin
Yayınlanma tarihi: 27 Nisan 2017 Perşembe, 19:47

Let us first summarise what is already known:
One: Turkey’s signature is beneath a convention whereby it agrees to abide by decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Two: It has also been accepted in the same convention under the seal of the state that ECHR decisions have priority over domestic laws and must be abided by.
Three: In order for citizens or institutions of the Republic of Turkey to apply to the ECHR, domestic legal remedies must be exhausted.
Four: The decision taken by the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council to demote Turkey after thirteen years and place it under ‘monitoring’ does not absolve the state of its obligation to abide by ECHR decisions.
Five: Reports by the OSCE observers whose authority is recognised and who were in any case officially invited in the course of the referendum by Turkey have the status of documents with international validity and the OSCE report on the referendum is sufficiently clear and blunt to shut the mouths of those who make brazen recourse to arguments such as, ‘That business is over. The taker of the horse has passed Üsküdar.’
Enough with the summarising.
***
The coming days will see a ‘ECHR test’ commencing for the AKP rulership.
There are a huge number of files pending before the ECHR and, as domestic legal remedies have been exhausted in Turkey, there is no legal or formal obstacle to their being ruled on.
The newest of these comes with the CHP deciding to go to the ECHR as a last resort over the referendum results.
Party spokesperson Selin Sayek Böke has officially announced this decision. Given that the door has been closed in no uncertain manner in the CHP’s applications to senior judicial institutions such as the Supreme Election Council, Council of State and Constitutional Court, it is certain that domestic legal remedies in the country have been exhausted.
There is more.
We have applied on behalf of eleven of our detained colleagues to the Constitutional Court and the ECHR and are seeking our colleagues’ release, stating that pre-trial detention has been turned into a punishment and the indictment that has been made public lacks any serious content that would warrant the passing of a detention order. Until today, there has not been a peep from the Constitutional Court. So, there is a strong possibility that the ECHR will render a ruling on the grounds of a ‘violation of rights’ with regard to our colleagues. It is not only our Cumhuriyet bunch that are involved. As far as I know, an application has been made to the ECHR for a group of journalists including my friendŞahin Alpay and the ECHR has decided to fast track these cases.
If my few ounces of legal knowledge do not deceive me, the coming weeks that for all you know will stretch into months will see one ECHR decision following another.
I and we obviously do not know the content of the decisions at the moment. But ...
But, what is to happen if these decisions are decisions that reject the claims of the AKP upper echelons and assent to the applicants’ quests for justice?
If we lived in a true democracy and under the genuine rule of law, the question would have a brief and definitive reply: The Republic of Turkey would abide unwaveringly by the ECHR decisions and would do what was required.
But, we live in nothing like a true democracy and the rule of law is removed by light years from today’s law in Turkey.
In my opinion, the correct question is not: ‘Will Turkey pass or fail the test set by the ECHR, whose legal and statutory supremacy has attained finality under the seal of the state?’
In my opinion, the correct question is: ‘Will the AKP rulership deny the supremacy of international law and decide to continue on its way under local and national law?’
I get the feeling that in the coming weeks or months we are going to hear the yell emanating from Tayyip Erdoğan’s mouth, ‘ECHR decisions are null and void for us.’
Then we will all attend democracy’s funeral together.

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Aydın Engin, Selin Sayek Böke