Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and the Turkey Litigation Support Project intervened this week in the case of Piskin v. Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights.
The case concerns the dismissal of a public institution employee pursuant to Emergency Decree no. 667 due to his alleged links to an organisation prescribed as terrorist by the State. Relevant to the situation of almost 130,000 persons dismissed from their jobs during the period of the State of Emergency, the case raises significant questions regarding procedural rights in employment proceedings leading to the dismissal of state employees on grounds related to national security, including under a State of Emergency as well as the application of the principles of legality, legal certainty and non-retroactivity in the field of counter-terrorism.
The Interveners address the following matters in the intervention:
the applicability of the criminal limb of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (Convention) to dismissal proceedings in cases where the proceedings involve a determination of facts which constitute a “criminal offence” as understood under the autonomous meaning of the term in the Convention,
the lack of procedural guarantees in the dismissal process necessary to comply with Article 6, in particular the principle of presumption of innocence,
the application of the principles of legality, legal certainty and non-retroactivity to dismissal proceedings, where they determine membership of, participation in or association with, a terrorist group, including with regard to Article 7 of the Convention and the application of state of emergency decrees to events that occurred before the declaration of the State of Emergency.
Reviewing the Turkish “mass dismissal” process carried out by way of State of Emergency decrees in the context of the State of Emergency, the Interveners highlight that “the permanent nature of the sanctions suggest that their purpose is more punitive and deterrent rather than preventative” and taken as a whole have a severe impact on a person’s life, serving the function of a criminal rather than administrative sanction. Despite this, many of those dismissed could not avail themselves of their defence rights as protected under domestic and international law. In a process that failed to meet the procedural safeguards protected in Article 6 of the Convention, many dismissed public sector workers and employees of the public institutions working under different forms of contracts challenged their dismissals in domestic mechanisms without knowing what allegations they were facing, and without knowledge of any evidence against them.
The intervention can be accessed here.