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Human rights at the margin : an analysis of Turkey's post-coup derogation measures

Emre Turkut (UGent)
(2020)
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Abstract
On 15 July 2016, an attempted military coup took place in Turkey, which sent a shockwave through Turkish society, and plunged the country into a nationwide state of emergency. Relying on derogation clauses under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Turkish Government suspended a broad range of human rights and promulgated numerous emergency decrees providing for mass detentions, massive dismissal and broad institutional closures. Over the two-year emergency rule, the Turkish Government targeted a wide swath of Turkish society, instigated a harsh crackdown on perceived political opponents and stifled all forms of dissent. This doctoral thesis provides an in-depth examination of Turkey’s post-coup derogation measures primarily from an international (human rights law) perspective. It first sketches the broader historical experience(s) of Turkey with state of emergency practices, so as to gain insight into the extent to which such practice is part and parcel of Turkey’s political tradition and legal order (Part I). It then asks two central questions. First, from a more positivist perspective, it examines in a comprehensive manner to what extent the Turkish emergency measures are compatible with international law, in particular with international human rights law. Testing three most problematic features of Turkey’s post-coup emergency rule (the collective dismissals of public servants, the detention and arrest of hundreds of thousands of individuals, and the impact of the derogation measures on the Kurdish people in Turkey) against the state’s obligations under the ECHR and ICCPR (Part II), it finds that Turkey adopted a ‘shotgun’ approach to human rights curtailment, which involved severe repression based, in many cases, on a tenuous or very remote connection with the raison d’être of the state of emergency. A separate part explores the impact of the post-coup emergency rule on the Turkish legal order, particularly focusing on the old but thorny question of proper judicial scrutiny and review in times of emergency (Part III). Second, from a critical and empirical point of view, it investigates what broader lessons can be drawn from the Turkish case study to address the operation and fallacies of the contemporary human rights regime and to design a better-equipped human rights regime for emergencies. It finds that the Turkish post-coup derogation case highlights several key weaknesses in the international protection of human rights during emergencies. In light hereof, the thesis offers a new and original proposal that can be termed as “consultation and cooperation process” which places the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in a more active and operationally focused position in the ambit of derogation to influence state decisions, to counterbalance the increased leeway accorded to derogating states and to formulate safeguards to mitigate human rights abuses (Part IV). The conclusion finally provides a helicopter view of the thesis particularly following its main conclusions, i.e. three natures of states of emergency (‘trans-temporal’, ‘corrosive’ and ‘transformative’) as derived from the Turkish post-coup case study. It also sets out some general recommendations with a view to improving the effectiveness of the existing international legal framework in the protection of human rights during emergencies.
Op 15 juli 2016 vond in Turkije een poging tot militaire staatsgreep plaats, die een schokgolf door de Turkse samenleving zond en het land in een noodtoestand stortte. Op basis van uitzonderingsclausules in het kader van het Europees Verdrag voor de Rechten van de Mens (EVRM) en het Internationaal Verdrag inzake Burgerrechten en Politieke Rechten (IVBPR), schortte de Turkse regering een breed scala aan mensenrechten op en vaardigde tal van noodverordeningen uit die leidden tot massa-arrestaties, massale ontslagen en wijdverbreide institutionele sluitingen. Tijdens deze tweejarige noodtoestand richtte de Turkse regering zich tegen een breed deel van de samenleving, trad hardhandig op tegen vermeende politieke tegenstanders en smoorde alle vormen van verzet in de kiem. Dit proefschrift omvat een diepgaand onderzoek van de zogeheten derogatiemaatregelen, genomen na de staatsgreep, voornamelijk vanuit internationaal (mensenrechten-)perspectief. Het schetst eerst de historische ervaring(en) van Turkije met de noodtoestand, om inzicht te krijgen in de mate waarin zulke situatie inherent deel uitmaakt van de Turkse politieke traditie en rechtsorde (deel I). Vervolgens worden twee centrale vragen gesteld. Ten eerste wordt, vanuit positivistisch oogpunt, op een alomvattende manier onderzocht in hoeverre de Turkse noodmaatregelen al dan niet verenigbaar zijn met het internationaal recht en de internationale mensenrechten in het bijzonder. De drie meest problematische maatregelen (het collectieve ontslag van ambtenaren, de detentie en arrestatie van honderdduizenden individuen, en de impact van het beleid op het Koerdische volk in Turkije) worden getoetst aan de hand van de verplichtingen van de staat onder het EVRM en IVBPR (deel II). De conclusie is dat Turkije een ‘shotgun’-benadering hanteerde wat betreft de beknotting van de mensenrechten. Dat ging gepaard met ernstige repressie, die weinig te maken had met de raison d’être van de noodtoestand. Een afzonderlijk deel van het proefschrift onderzoekt de impact van de noodtoestand, afgeroepen na de staatsgreep, op de Turkse rechtsorde, met bijzondere aandacht voor de oude, netelige kwestie van deugdelijke gerechtelijke controle en toezicht in noodsituaties (deel III). Ten tweede wordt, vanuit een kritisch en empirisch perspectief, onderzocht welke bredere lessen kunnen worden getrokken uit de Turkse casus om de werking en misvattingen van het hedendaagse mensenrechtenregime aan te kaarten en een performanter mensenrechtenregime voor noodsituaties te ontwikkelen. De Turkse noodtoestand brengt verschillende en belangrijke zwaktes aan het licht omtrent de internationale bescherming van de mensenrechten in noodsituaties. In het licht hiervan doet het proefschrift een nieuw en origineel voorstel dat kan worden omschreven als “overleg- en samenwerkingsproces”. Het voorstel plaatst de Secretaris-Generaal van de Raad van Europa in een actievere en meer operationele positie in de context van derogatie, die het toelaat om overheidsbeslissingen te beïnvloeden, tegenwicht te bieden aan de toegenomen speelruimte die wordt toegekend aan derogerende staten, en waarborgen te formuleren die mensenrechtenschendingen kunnen beperken (deel IV). Ten slotte biedt de conclusie een helikopterperspectief van het proefschrift, in het bijzonder van de belangrijkste bevindingen hiervan, namelijk drie eigenschappen van noodtoestanden (‘trans-temporaal’, ‘corrosief’ en ‘transformatief’) die afgeleid worden uit de Turkse casus. Het doet ook enkele algemene aanbevelingen om de doeltreffendheid van het bestaande internationale rechtskader voor de mensenrechtenbescherming tijdens noodsituaties te verbeteren.
Keywords
state of emergency, human rights, derogation, Turkey, ECHR, Article 15, military coups, authoritarianism, judicial politics

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Citation

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MLA
Turkut, Emre. Human Rights at the Margin : An Analysis of Turkey’s Post-Coup Derogation Measures. Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Recht en Criminologie, 2020.
APA
Turkut, E. (2020). Human rights at the margin : an analysis of Turkey’s post-coup derogation measures. Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Recht en Criminologie.
Chicago author-date
Turkut, Emre. 2020. “Human Rights at the Margin : An Analysis of Turkey’s Post-Coup Derogation Measures.” Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Recht en Criminologie.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Turkut, Emre. 2020. “Human Rights at the Margin : An Analysis of Turkey’s Post-Coup Derogation Measures.” Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Recht en Criminologie.
Vancouver
1.
Turkut E. Human rights at the margin : an analysis of Turkey’s post-coup derogation measures. Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Recht en Criminologie; 2020.
IEEE
[1]
E. Turkut, “Human rights at the margin : an analysis of Turkey’s post-coup derogation measures,” Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Recht en Criminologie, 2020.
@phdthesis{8681995,
  abstract     = {{On 15 July 2016, an attempted military coup took place in Turkey, which sent a shockwave through Turkish society, and plunged the country into a nationwide state of emergency. Relying on derogation clauses under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Turkish Government suspended a broad range of human rights and promulgated numerous emergency decrees providing for mass detentions, massive dismissal and broad institutional closures. Over the two-year emergency rule, the Turkish Government targeted a wide swath of Turkish society, instigated a harsh crackdown on perceived political opponents and stifled all forms of dissent. 
This doctoral thesis provides an in-depth examination of Turkey’s post-coup derogation measures primarily from an international (human rights law) perspective. It first sketches the broader historical experience(s) of Turkey with state of emergency practices, so as to gain insight into the extent to which such practice is part and parcel of Turkey’s political tradition and legal order (Part I). It then asks two central questions. First, from a more positivist perspective, it examines in a comprehensive manner to what extent the Turkish emergency measures are compatible with international law, in particular with international human rights law. Testing three most problematic features of Turkey’s post-coup emergency rule (the collective dismissals of public servants, the detention and arrest of hundreds of thousands of individuals, and the impact of the derogation measures on the Kurdish people in Turkey) against the state’s obligations under the ECHR and ICCPR (Part II), it finds that Turkey adopted a ‘shotgun’ approach to human rights curtailment, which involved severe repression based, in many cases, on a tenuous or very remote connection with the raison d’être of the state of emergency. A separate part explores the impact of the post-coup emergency rule on the Turkish legal order, particularly focusing on the old but thorny question of proper judicial scrutiny and review in times of emergency (Part III).
Second, from a critical and empirical point of view, it investigates what broader lessons can be drawn from the Turkish case study to address the operation and fallacies of the contemporary human rights regime and to design a better-equipped human rights regime for emergencies. It finds that the Turkish post-coup derogation case highlights several key weaknesses in the international protection of human rights during emergencies. In light hereof, the thesis offers a new and original proposal that can be termed as “consultation and cooperation process” which places the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in a more active and operationally focused position in the ambit of derogation to influence state decisions, to counterbalance the increased leeway accorded to derogating states and to formulate safeguards to mitigate human rights abuses (Part IV). 
The conclusion finally provides a helicopter view of the thesis particularly following its main conclusions, i.e. three natures of states of emergency (‘trans-temporal’, ‘corrosive’ and ‘transformative’) as derived from the Turkish post-coup case study. It also sets out some general recommendations with a view to improving the effectiveness of the existing international legal framework in the protection of human rights during emergencies.}},
  author       = {{Turkut, Emre}},
  keywords     = {{state of emergency,human rights,derogation,Turkey,ECHR,Article 15,military coups,authoritarianism,judicial politics}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{262}},
  publisher    = {{Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Recht en Criminologie}},
  school       = {{Ghent University}},
  title        = {{Human rights at the margin : an analysis of Turkey's post-coup derogation measures}},
  year         = {{2020}},
}