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Turkey under Emergency Rule: Politicized Terrorism Prosecutions and Criminalized Dissent

Zingg, Genevieve

In July 2016, a failed​ coup d'état p​lunged Turkey into a nationwide state of emergency. Despite its recent status as a model for democratization in the Middle East, Turkey has veered dangerously towards authoritarianism under emergency rule. The state of emergency has empowered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to bypass parliament and pass sweeping new anti-terror laws by executive decree. Under the international legal framework, the state of emergency has further allowed Turkey to suspend its human rights obligations as a states party to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Turkey’s emergency counterterrorism laws and policies have increasingly been used to target dissident journalists, academics, human rights activists and members of the political opposition and prosecute them on heavily politicized and trumped-up terrorism charges.

Using the current situation in Turkey as its chief case study, this paper asks two central questions. First, it examines how the state of emergency has facilitated human rights abuses, finding that freedom of expression has been criminalized by emergency counterterrorism decrees and further led to increased risks of torture against detained dissidents. Second, this paper investigates what role international human rights law plays and how the existing framework might be improved to better strengthen human rights protections during emergencies. It finds that the efficacy of monitoring and accountability mechanisms are significantly hindered by political, strategic, and economic relations, but argues that those same factors can be used as leverage against repressive states. Finally, Turkey’s cross-border efforts to hunt and capture dissidents, which have included the use and abuse of international policing systems, bilateral extradition treaties, and state-sponsored abductions, reveals a key opportunity for international human rights law to respond to the troubling impacts of counterterrorism on human rights.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Mouradian, Khatchig
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
November 2, 2018
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