Turkey – Amnesty blasts dismissal of public service workers and European Parliament seeks suspension of negotiations over EU Membership

Cover Amnesty Report 2018 Turkey

(26 November 2018) A new report Turkey: purged beyond return? No remedy for Turkey's dismissed public sector workers of human rights organisation Amnesty International blasts the way the Turkish government has dismissed ten thousands of public service workers. In its conclusions Amnesty says: “Turkey’s two-year state of emergency has resulted in serious human rights violations impacting on hundreds of thousands of individuals from all walks of life. Among them are the almost 130,000 public sector workers who were arbitrarily dismissed and permanently banned from working in the public sector or even in their profession as a whole." The organisation notes the “devastating effects” on those workers and their families.

In response to criticisms from Turkish unions, EPSU, the ETUC and other European and international organisations, the Turkish government set up a “State of Emergency Inquiry Commission” . It should provide a remedy, but it does not allow for an effective appeal to the decisions. Amnesty says they are rubber stamping the  arbitrary dismissals. Workers are not guaranteed restitution and compensation. And as the process is flawed the workers dismissed find it difficult to appeal against the Commission's decisions before the administrative courts. A solution looks further away. Amnesty calls on the public service workers dismissed to be reinstated and those against whom a suspicion exists to have an independent and fair process with procedural guarantees. It urges the international community to raise the situation of public service workers with the Turkish authorities.

The European Parliament recently adopted its position on the European Commission's progress report on Turkey 2018. The European Parliament formally asks to suspend negotiations and on the dismissal of public service workers it says:

The Parliament notes “that since the introduction of the state of emergency more than 152 000 civil servants - including teachers, doctors, (peace) academics, judges and prosecutors - have been dismissed; notes that 125 000 people applied to the Inquiry Commission on the State of Emergency Measures (CoSEM) which is tasked with reviewing and deciding within two years on complaints about measures taken under the state of emergency and related decrees, and 89 000 of them are still awaiting a decision; is concerned about the narrow scope of the mandate of the Commission, its lack of independence and the fact that examinations are made on the sole basis of documents in the case-file, without participation of the person concerned; notes that the dismissals have had a very harsh impact on the individuals concerned and on their families, including in economic terms, and that the dismissals come with a lasting social and professional stigma; calls on the Turkish government to ensure that all individuals have the right to have their cases reviewed by an independent judicial court that can ensure compensation for the material and moral damage caused by their arbitrary dismissal."

The Parliament draws attention to the attacks on trade unions and points out that “trade union freedom and social dialogue are vital to the development of a pluralistic society; regrets the legislative shortcomings on labour and trade union rights and stresses that the right to organise, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike are fundamental rights of workers; is seriously concerned about the working conditions for workers during the construction of Istanbul’s new airport as reportedly 38 workers died in work-related accidents since the start of construction in May 2015 and 31 people, including a union leader, are held in prison for protesting poor working conditions; calls on the Turkish authorities to consult closely with relevant trade unions on the necessary safeguards for the workers on-site, to carry out a thorough investigation into the deaths and injuries and to allow trade unions full access to the workers."

A recent verdict of the European Court of Human Rights  further drew attention to the arbitrary and repressive policies of the Turkish authorities. It ruled that an opposition politician should be set free. The Turkish government should implement the decision of the Court.

Our colleagues of the UK trade union Unison adopted a report Workers’ and Human Rights in Turkey  with a comprehensive set of recommendations for the UK government, Turkish authorities and global community.

For the report Turkey: purged beyond return? No remedy for Turkey's dismissed public sector workers of Amnesty International

For the position of European parliament on the European Commission report on Turkey 2018 (rapporteur Kati Piri)

For the 2018 Progress report of the European Commission

For more information on EPSU and the situation in Turkey