The “Law of Freedoms”: Turkey to suspend human rights laws following failed coup

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish government has announced plans to suspend human rights laws as it prepares to implement the country’s new state of emergency following the failed coup.

The nation’s parliament is set to approve the three-month state of emergency announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday night.

Ahead of the vote, deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey will suspend the European Human Rights Convention in line with an article contained within the agreement allowing for it in time of emergencies.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Mr Erdogan announced a cabinet decision to seek additional powers, saying the state of emergency would give the government the tools to rid the military of the “virus” of subversion.

Under the terms of the Turkish constitution, members of the 550-seat parliament have to approve a request for a state of emergency. Of those, 317 are members of Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party.

The state of emergency will give the government sweeping powers to expand a crackdown that has already included mass arrests and the closure of hundreds of schools.

On Thursday, Turkish state media said a further 32 judges and two military officers had been detained by authorities during the crackdown since last week’s coup.

Nearly 10,000 people have now been arrested, hundreds of schools have been closed and nearly 60,000 civil service employees have been dismissed.

The targeting of education ties in with Mr Erdogan’s belief that the cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers run a network of schools worldwide, seeks to infiltrate the Turkish education system and other institutions in order to bend the country to his will.

The US-based cleric’s movement, which espouses moderation and multi-faith harmony, says it is a scapegoat.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Turkey’s state of emergency should only last as long as it is “absolutely necessary”.

He said it is important that “the rule of law, a sense of proportion and commensurability are preserved” and that it is in Turkey’s interest to “keep the state of emergency only for the duration that is absolutely necessary and then immediately end it”.

Mr Erdogan, who had been accused of autocratic conduct even before this week’s tough crackdown, said the state of emergency would counter threats to Turkish democracy.

“This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms,” he said on Wednesday night after a meeting with cabinet ministers and security advisers.
The president also suggested military purges would continue.

“As the commander in chief, I will also attend to it so that all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed.”

The pro-government death toll in the botched coup now stands at 246. At least 24 coup plotters were also killed.


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