(Istanbul) – The first emergency decree under Turkey’s state of emergency is arbitrary, discriminatory, and unjustified as a response to the violent coup attempt or other public order concerns.
The July 23, 2016 decree orders the closure of thousands of private educational institutions, hospitals, and clinics, and associations allegedly linked to a movement inspired by Fethullah Gülen, a cleric the government blames for a violent coup attempt on July 15-16. The decree allows the permanent discharge of judges, prosecutors, and civil servants without any investigation or possibility of legal challenge. The decree also extends police powers to detain some suspects for up to 30 days without being taken before a judge and seriously curtails detainees’ right to private communications with lawyers.
“The first state of emergency decree goes well beyond the legitimate aim of promoting accountability for the bloody July 15 coup attempt,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director at Human Rights Watch. “It is an unvarnished move for an arbitrary, mass, and permanent purge of the civil service, prosecutors, and judges, and to close down private institutions and associations without evidence, justification, or due process.”
The decree was published and became law – no. 667, published in the Official Gazette – on July 23. It is the first such decree by the Council of Ministers headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan under Turkey’s three-month state of emergency, which entered into force on July 21. On July 22, the Turkish government notified the Council of Europe that it was also “derogating” from – that is, temporarily imposing extraordinary limitations on – the guarantees under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which it is a party, which the convention says a government can only do “in times of public emergency threatening the life of a nation.”