Hüseyin Uzun v Turkey - The impact of State of Emergency Measures on the Right to Education

On 8 January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights communicated the case of Hüseyin Uzun v Turkey with the Turkish Government. The applicant, Mr Uzun, challenges Emergency Legislative Decree No. 677 on the grounds that it violated his right to education protected by Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the Convention.

On 2 August 2016, the applicant Mr Uzun, was placed in pre-trial detention in Burdur Prison on suspicion of being a member of the FETÖ / PDY organisation. At the time, Mr Uzun was enrolled in a training program at the Anadolu University of the Faculty of Public Administration. On 23 November 2016, the prison administration sent Mr Uzun a copy of decree law no. 677 notifying him that he could not, under Article 4 of the Decree, participate in exams for the duration of the state emergency, and the entire duration of his detention. 

On 22 December 2016 the applicant lodged an individual petition before the Constitutional Court, alleging that the ban introduced by the emergency decree law violated his right to education. Mr Uzun’s appeal was dismissed as manifestly ill-founded by the Constitutional Court on 18 June 2018. The Court held that the refusal to allow the applicant to sit his exam was based on an emergency law pursuing a legitimate aim, namely to ensure the discipline and security within the prison establishment. The Court indicated that as a result of the attempted coup, many persons accused of terrorist offences had been detained and/or convicted on similar charges, and therefore the number of officers responsible for the safety and protection of detainees had decreased significantly. In light of these elements and the Court’s previous decision in Mehmet Ali Eneze, it could not be said that the restriction on the applicants right to education was not necessary to achieve a legitimate aim. 

The Court posed the following questions to the parties:

  • Did the inability of the applicant to sit his university exams as a result of the ban introduced by Legislative Decree no. 677 infringe his right to education as guaranteed by Article 2 of Protocol o 1 to the Convention?

  • The government was invited to provide information on the number of prisoners affected by the ban introduced by Legislative Decree no. 677, as well as information on the different types of exams available to detainees and their organisation.

This case is important as it is one of the first to evaluate interference with the right to education during a state of emergency.