Fighting COVID-19 – Legal Powers, Risks and the Rule of Law: Turkey

In order to ensure a quick and flexible response in fighting against COVID- 19, Turkish presidency and administration preferred to introduce the measures against the pandemic in the form of circulars instead of declaring a state of emergency. This choice is being criticised for opening the way for arbitrariness and undermining the principle of legality.

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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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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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