The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has denied the application of Gökhan Köksal, a teacher who was dismissed from his job for suspected membership with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), rejecting his application in a decision that requires him to first apply with Turkey's State of Emergency Investigation Commission for the purposes of exhausting all primary domestic avenues prior to contacting the EctHR. "The European court ruled that Köksal must challenge his dismissal before the commission set up under Legislative Decree no. 685. The court dismissed the application for failure to exhaust domestic remedies, finding that Köksal had to use the remedy provided for under Legislative Decree no. 685," a statement published by the court said.
The statement added that "as Mr Köksal had complained of a violation of his Convention rights as a result of his dismissal, he should have used that remedy in accordance with Article 35 - 1 of the Convention. The application was thus dismissed for failure to exhaust domestic remedies pursuant to Article 35 - 1 and 4 of the Convention."
The ECtHR's decision is final and the verdict is expected to set a precedent for similar cases. There are currently more than 3.4 million civil servants in Turkey and, since last year's July 15 failed coup attempt, around 100,000 - approximately 3 percent of all civil servants - have been dismissed for being suspected members of FETÖ, the cult which the Turkish government holds responsible for the failed coup attempt.
On Jan. 23, the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission was established to evaluate and make decisions regarding applications related to operations made uder the state of emergency decree laws. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced on May 16 that members of the State of Emergency Decrees Investigation Commission were appointed, stressing that more than 20,000 people have been returned to their posts after their complaints about suspension were evaluated and they were found to have been unrightfully dismissed.
The commission consists of seven members, three of whom are appointed by the prime minister, one by the Justice Ministry, one by the Interior Ministry and two by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The commission's term is two years and members are expected to receive around 100,000 applications regarding state of emergency decree decisions within their term.
The commission is entitled to demand any information and documents from public institutions and judicial authorities - except documents subject to confidentiality - as part of an investigation or otherwise classified state secrets. Public institutions and judicial authorities are obliged to immediately provide the requested information to the commission and to facilitate any inquiries.
Applications to the commission are made through the governors' offices. Those who have been removed from positions in public service, professions or organizations, as well as those who have been suspended, may also apply through the institution where they last worked.Government spokesman deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, yesterday praised the ECtHR's decision and said that the commission will start its work in the beginning of July.
A recent ECtHR decision dated Nov. 17, 2016, on the Karapetyan and Others v. Armenia case is considered to have set a precedent for suspected FETÖ members who were fired from state posts. The court decided that the Armenian government had not exceeded its margin of appreciation by summarily dismissing senior civil servants who had criticized the government. It recalled the importance of "the special bond of trust and loyalty between a civil servant and the state."
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