Turkey: ICJ urges for respect of the rule of law during state of emergency

The ICJ urges Turkish authorities to fully respect the rule of law and human rights under the recently declared state of emergency.

The ICJ is concerned that yesterday’s declaration of a state of emergency could further exacerbate the ongoing attack on institutions and professions that are guardians of the rule of law in Turkey, including the judiciary, the media and academia.

The ICJ reiterates its concern at the ongoing purge within the judiciary that led to the suspension of 2,745 judges and the arrest of hundreds.

Since then, Turkish authorities have summarily suspended, dismissed or arrested more than 50,000 academics, judges, including military judges, and public officials.

The ICJ is concerned that many of these measures are arbitrary and unlawful.

“Turkey needs to respect the tenets of the rule of law and human rights law during the state of emergency,” said Wilder Tayler, ICJ Secretary General.

“There are human rights that can never be restricted even in a state of emergency, notably the right to life, the prohibition of torture or ill-treatment, and the essential elements of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and to a fair trial,” he added.

“The current allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees and arbitrary arrests already point to serious violations of human rights. Widespread arrests and suspensions of judges, which began before the declaration of any state of emergency, threaten the right to a fair trial,” Tayler further said.

“The state of emergency must not be used as a means to subvert the rule of law and human rights.”

The ICJ remains concerned at President Erdoğan’s statements that he would allow for a reinstatement of the death penalty.

The ICJ firmly opposes the death penalty under any circumstances, and its reintroduction in Turkey which would also be incompatible with Turkey’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


Róisín Pillay, Director, ICJ Europe Programme, t: +32 476 974263 ; e:  roisin.pillay(a)icj.org
Massimo Frigo, Legal Adviser, ICJ Europe Programme, t: +41 22 979 38 05 ; e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org

Background information

The Council of Ministers, chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, declared yesterday a three-month state of emergency throughout the whole territory of Turkey in accordance with article 120 of the Turkish Constitution.

The declaration must be ratified by the National Assembly. He has not yet announced what specific measures will be introduced.

Turkey is a party to many human rights treaties, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Under these treaties, the declaration of a state of emergency must remain within the strict boundaries of the law, in particular constitutional and international law.

Any measures derogating from them must be strictly necessary to meet a threat the life of the nation.

Certain human rights obligations cannot be derogated from even under a state of emergency. All rights must continue to be respected, although lawful derogating measures may restrict their scope of application.


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