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ECHR’s Landmark Yalçınkaya Decision Discussed at OSCE Summit: Calls for Turkey to Seize Opportunity

In a recent development, legal expert Coskun Yorulmaz, representing the Brussels-based organization Solidarity With Others, has called upon Turkey to implement the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Yalçınkaya decision. Yorulmaz made this call during his address at the OSCE Human Rights Summit held in Warsaw, Poland, where he emphasized the significance of the ECHR’s ‘Yüksel Yalçınkaya’ verdict, which had severely criticized Turkey.

Speaking on behalf of the organization at the OSCE summit, Coskun Yorulmaz pointed out that if enforced, the ECHR’s ruling could be beneficial for the Turkish government as well. Yorulmaz urged the Turkish government to view this decision as an opportunity to return to the principles of the rule of law. He also called for reforms in the country’s anti-terrorism laws, which are currently broad and vague, to align them with legal standards. Yorulmaz further appealed to the OSCE and its member states, particularly those with robust diplomatic and trade ties with Turkey, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, to kindly remind Turkey of its commitments to uphold the rule of law.

Key Highlights from Coskun Yorulmaz’s Speech:

  • The ECHR’s Grand Chamber recently issued a pivotal verdict, ruling that Yüksel Yalçınkaya, a teacher dismissed by emergency decree in Turkey and convicted of affiliation with the Gülen Movement, had been denied a fair chance to defend himself. Consequently, his conviction was deemed arbitrary.
  • The evidence against Yalçınkaya included his use of a mobile messaging app called ByLock, membership in an educational union, and utilizing the services of a Turkish bank – all activities that were publicly accessible at the time.
  • This decision is noteworthy not only because it is based on the same evidence that triggered investigations into approximately two million Turkish citizens but also because it led to the dismissal of hundreds of thousands of public officials and the imprisonment of an equal number of individuals.
  • The ECHR has ordered Turkey to reopen the case against the applicant. Furthermore, the Grand Chamber revealed that there are more than 8,000 pending applications before the Court with similar complaints and potentially over 100,000 potential applications against Turkey.
  • The Court has also mandated that Turkey address systemic issues within its judiciary. However, the Turkish government has displayed reluctance in implementing ECHR decisions, with the Justice Minister deeming the decision “unacceptable” and the President accusing the ECHR of siding with terrorist organizations.
  • Implementation of this decision by Turkey holds paramount significance for the millions of individuals who have faced unjust prosecutions, convictions, and imprisonments.
  • Yorulmaz’s call to action includes urging the Turkish Government to seize this opportunity to reverse the country’s decline in the rule of law, amend overly broad and ambiguous anti-terrorism laws, refrain from exerting undue pressure on the judiciary, and ensure the restoration of the rights of similarly affected Turkish citizens.
  • Additionally, Turkish judges are reminded of their constitutional duty to promptly enforce the ECHR decision and resist unwarranted pressures from the executive branch.
  • Yorulmaz has called upon the OSCE and its member states, especially those with substantial diplomatic and trade ties to Turkey, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, to diplomatically remind Turkey of its commitments to uphold the rule of law.
  • In closing, Yorulmaz has requested the support of human rights advocates and media organizations in amplifying the voices of hundreds of thousands of unjustly convicted individuals, ensuring that their stories reach those who have the power to make a difference.
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