The European Court of Human Rights has criticized Article 299 of the Turkish Constitution, which provides for the punishment of citizens and foreigners under the pretext of insulting the president. This came after the court, based in the French city of Strasbourg, received a complaint from a Turkish citizen who spent several months in prison on the pretext of having insulted Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and eventually ruled in his favor by forcing Ankara to pay him morally and materially.
The European Court found that “the Turkish law, which punishes people for insulting the president, is incompatible with the content of the European Convention on Human Rights”, in the text of its sentence which condemns Turkey and gives the complainant a amount of 7,500 euros.
Two Turkish lawyers, one from the Istanbul Bar Association and the other from its Ankara office, said Article 299 of Turkish law is used to prosecute the president’s opponents and those who criticize the current government, formed by the justice of Erdogan and the Development Party in alliance with the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party, led by Devlet Bahceli.
The European Court of Human Rights did not reveal the identity of the Turkish citizen who filed a complaint against the government of his country, but only revealed his age, being in his thirties. Already jailed for more than two months after being convicted of insulting Erdogan, he was given a suspended prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days in 2017, after publishing two cartoons by the Turkish president. in which the authorities found Erdogan offensive.
Mesut Ozer, who is also a lawyer and member of the Turkish Bar Association, said that “Ankara is obliged to implement and enforce the decisions of the European Court following its membership in the Council of Europe, from which the various judges of the Court European Union, as well as under Article 90 of Turkish law and Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights. ” .
He added to Al Arabiya.net: “The recent criticism of the European Court of the Judiciary in Turkey could be the prelude to a further escalation against Ankara in the coming period, especially since the Council of Europe pledged last month to discipline Turkey next November following its repeated refusal to implement and implement the judgments of the European Court “.
He continued: “The Council of Europe can temporarily suspend Ankara’s membership if it continues to circumvent the implementation of the decisions of the European Court, but it could in followed by having to completely withdraw Turkey’s membership if it continues to fail to implement the decisions of the European Court. . “
Ozer has been defending inmates arrested by Turkish security authorities and charged with various charges as a lawyer for years. Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, was one of his clients.
In this regard, he said, “The European Court ordered the release of Demirtaş, as well as the well-known businessman Osman Kavala. However, Ankara has not respected these provisions and has contented itself with financially compensating the former. We should proceed with the full implementation of the sentence, and then release Demirtaş. “
It also considered that “Turkey’s refusal to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in about the release of Demirtaş and Kavala is a political issue, especially since Ankara in some cases has pledged to implement the court’s decisions. “
On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights underlined, during its ruling condemning Turkey in the case of the detention of one of its citizens under the pretext of insulting its president, that the reality of human rights is terrible in the country and it has already deteriorated since the Turkish president abolished the parliamentary system of government in Turkey and transformed it in a presidential system that has entered in in force in mid-2018 and granted it broad and absolute powers.
The court also stressed that “the sanction imposed by article 299 of the Turkish law under the pretext of insulting the president inevitably has a deterrent effect on the desire of others to express their opinion on matters of public interest”.
And in 2020 alone, 31,297 investigations were opened for insulting the president in the Turkish prosecutor’s office, according to data provided by the Turkish Ministry of Justice last month.
Under Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, people convicted of “insulting the president” are sentenced to one to four years in prison.
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