Turkey: National Assembly should end, not extend, government’s emergency powers

Turkish lawmakers should reject the proposed extension of unnecessary emergency powers for three more years, and instead end the corrosive impact of these powers on human rights and the rule of law, said the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today.

The Turkish government included provisions to extend the emergency powers in a rushed omnibus bill tabled at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on 9 July.

Emergency powers have been in effect since 2016 and have already drastically eroded justice institutions and human rights protections in Turkey.

“The extension of these emergency powers would effectively make permanent the state of emergency”, said Massimo Frigo, Senior Legal Adviser for the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme, “This is a blow to the rule of law that in Turkey has been effectively trapped in limbo for the last five years. These powers should be repealed.”

The legislation if adopted would prolong until July 2024 some of the powers introduced in the state of emergency declaration on 21 July 2016. Although these were nominally withdrawn on 18 July 2018, they were then given continued effect in Turkish law by Law 7145 adopted on 25 July 2018.

The powers leading to abuses include the power for authorities to remove public officials from their positions without due process or legitimate cause.  These include judges and prosecutors who may be removed arbitrarily by the Council for Judges and Prosecutors, a body that does not comply with international standards of judicial independence.

The emergency power to extend police custody in relation to crimes that fall within the Anti-Terror Law, for up to 12 days, would also continue to apply for an extra three years. The ICJ notes that torture and ill-treatment allegations linked to long-term police custody have increased in the last three years, a situation that will be exacerbated by extending these overbroad and unnecessary police powers.

During and after the state of emergency, around one-third of the entire Turkish judiciary, which includes prosecutors, has been either suspended or removed under these emergency powers. The ICJ has documented the nefarious impact on human rights and the rule of law in Turkey of these measures since 2016.

“There is absolutely no legitimate justification for continuing the state of emergency today, just as there was not in 2018 when these powers were renewed unnecessarily. The renewal of these powers long after the 2016 emergency, without good reason, is unnecessary and disproportionate, and runs counter to Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law”, said Massimo Frigo. “The rule of law has been suspended in Turkey for the last five years, and any day without it is a day too much. The National Assembly should honour its responsibility and reject this bill.”


Massimo Frigo, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org

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