Open letter of the European Judges Associations to the Turkish Society (Avrupa Yargıç Derneklerinden Türk kamuoyuna açık mektup)

Gepubliceerd op: 13 november 2016 in: Activiteiten, Turkije | Comments Off on Open letter of the European Judges Associations to the Turkish Society (Avrupa Yargıç Derneklerinden Türk kamuoyuna açık mektup)

AEAJ

European Association of JudgesR4RMedel

 

On 7th of November 2016 the Turkish newspaper Sabah wrote that the European Association of Judges and named European national judges associations and individual European judges were supporting terrorists.

Nothing could be further away from the truth: The European Association of Judges and its national member associations have condemned the failed coup right after it occurred and continued to do so. A military coup can never be acceptable in a democratic society and in a state under the rule of law. Those responsible for the coup must be brought to justice.

The European Association of Judges specifically aims to strengthen and support the rule of law as well as judicial independence and impartiality in all member states, safeguard the interests of the judiciary, as an essential requirement of the judicial function and guarantee of human rights and freedoms as well as safeguard the constitutional and moral standing of the judiciary.

The European Association of Judges and its national member associations – together with the other European Judges Associations (Association of European Administrative Judges, Judges4Judges and Medel), the International Association of Judges and the International Bar Association – have continuously stressed that Turkey is a respected member of the Council of Europe, has signed the European Convention on Human Rights and is obliged to respect the fundamental principles laid down in the ECHR. We are aware that through the coup Turkey was put in a state of public emergency and was entitled to take measures derogating from its obligations under the ECHR. As we continuously stressed such a derogation from the principles of the ECHR is not unlimited, but must be limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with other obligations under international law.

The Convention states that certain rights – under which article 3, the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment – do not allow of any derogation. Although the Turkish Government carries the direct responsibility for establishing the balance between the taking of effective measures to combat terrorism on the one hand, and respecting individual rights on the other, it is ultimately for the European Court of Human Rights to determine whether the conditions laid down in Article 15 for the exercise of the exceptional right of derogation have been Vlag Turkijefulfilled. The Court ensures the proportionality of the measures taken under the state of emergency and the needs of combating terrorism, so that only those measures essential for security (the utility of which must be duly proved by the state concerned) can justify a derogation from the guarantees contained in the European Convention. In this perspective for the European Judges Associations it is not conceivable that a state of public emergency may justify the abolishment of the right to a fair trial and of the presumption of innocence.
It is in flagrant violation with the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary (§ 17) and nothing in European law can justify the dismissal of judges from their offices and their imprisonment without giving them a right to defend themselves and in the absence of specific, individual complaints against them. The blocking of all assets of dismissed judges, prosecutors and their families, based solely on the presumption that there might exist connections to the Gülen movement, violates basic Rule of law principles: it is incompatible with the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial and the principle of proportionality of the measures taken. It not only violates fundamental rights of the persons put under suspicion but also affects their families.

The European Association of Judges and its national member associations, as well as the other European Judges Associations (Association of European Administrative Judges, Judges4Judges and Medel) and the International Association of Judges, have repeatedly called on the Turkish authorities to abandon those measures. Until the competent authorities will do so – as they are obliged to under international law – the European Association of Judges and its national member associations have decided to step in and – with support of the other European Judges Associations and the International Association of Judges – to provide – how ever modest – emergency relief to those judges, prosecutors and their families brought in existential hardship by measures not in accordance with the principles laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The present letter is subscribed by the following European organizations of judges:

Association of European Administrative Judges
European Association of Judges
Judges4Judges
Medel

Click here to read the Turkish translation.

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