Why the Turkish Constitutional Court’s Wikipedia Decision is No Reason to Celebrate

The Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) recently lifted the ban on Wikipedia and a surge of, in my view, unwarranted optimism has now sprung out of nowhere both among international and Turkish circles following the case closely. I fail to share this optimism. By all means, the lifting of the ban on Wikipedia is something to be happy about. But the timing and content of the TCC’s decision, when especially read through the political context in which it was handed down, do not give much reason to celebrate.

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The Turkish Judiciary’s Violations of Human Rights Guarantees

On 3 December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the case of Parmak & Bakir v Turkey that the Turkish judiciary’s interpretation of the offence of membership of an armed terrorist organization violated Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, being the absolute right to no punishment without law. Although the case deals with incidents from 2002, it shows how Turkey’s post-coup terrorism trials violate Turkey’s obligations under the ECHR.

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Turkey’s Disregard for the Freedom of Movement

Through Emergency Decree Laws and Law no. 7188, the Turkish government has severely restricted the freedom of movement of hundreds of thousands of citizens by cancelling their passports or refusing to issue a new one. These laws and the corresponding practice not only violate the Turkish constitution but also contravene Turkey’s human rights obligations under regional and international law.

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Time for Strasbourg to Open its Doors to Turkey’s Purged Public Servants

A report by the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project (TLSP) provides fresh evidence that the Commission formed in 2017 to examine the mass dismissals of public servants and liquidation of media outlets and other organisations functions arbitrarily and without transparency. Together with concerns about judicial review by administrative courts and the Constitutional Court, the report casts serious doubt on whether victims of abuses committed under emergency laws have access to an effective domestic remedy – a finding with implications for the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as it considers the long queue of Turkish applications before it.

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Abusive Constitutional Lip Service

Amid Turkey’s heated agenda of constitutional politics during the past few years one issue seems to have received little to no attention: President Erdogan’s repeated call for reinstating the death penalty. Can Erdogan reinstate the death penalty? No, simply because he doesn’t have enough political support. But that isn’t the point. The point is how Erdogan uses the (unfulfillable) constitutional promise to reinstate the death penalty to consolidate his base.

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Der Schutz kultureller Rechte am Beispiel der „Kurdenpolitik“ der Türkei

Dass das Völkerrecht den jüngsten Angriff der Türkei auf die nördlichen Provinzen Syriens nicht deckt, hat nicht nur der wissenschaftliche Dienst des Bundestages bereits ausführlich dargelegt. Darüber hinaus stellt sich die Frage, ob hier der Beginn eines (kulturellen) Völkermordes stattfindet. Das Völkerstrafrecht kennt den Tatbestand des kulturellen Völkermordes nicht und der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte übt sich in Zurückhaltung, wenn kollektive Rechte betroffen sind. So entsteht eine gravierende Rechtslücke im Menschenrechtsschutz, die zumindest auf europäischer Ebene dringend geschlossen werden sollte.

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„Regelbasierte Weltordnung“ unter Beschuss

Während aus türkischer Sicht die Prinzipien von territorialer Integrität, Souveränität und Nichteinmischung höchsten Rang genießen, ist die staatliche Souveränität Syriens im Laufe der vergangenen Kriegsjahre immer durchlässiger geworden und bietet keinen Schutz mehr vor geostrategischen Einmischungen der Türkei. Gleichzeitig spielt völkerrechtliche Rhetorik für die Türkei eine nicht zu unterschätzende Rolle, vor allem wenn es um die Rechtfertigung von Interventionen und militärischer Gewaltanwendung geht.

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Did Turkey’s Recent Emergency Decrees Derogate from the Absolute Rights?

Following a coup attempt by a small group in the Turkish Armed Forces in 2016, the Turkish Government declared a state of emergency for three months. Although it observed procedural rules laid down by national and international law on declaring a state of emergency, the Government’s use of the emergency powers contradicts non-derogable rights laid down in the Turkish Constitution, the ICCPR and the ECHR.

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Recognizing Court-Packing

There is near scholarly consensus that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has successfully packed the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC). Court packing is commonly understood as expanding the membership of the court, appointing judges with long tenures that extend beyond a couple of election cycles, and who are ideologically committed to the executive’s constitutional vision. These elements, however, are still foreign to Turkey’s political elites.

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