July 25, 2021

Turkey sentenced before European Court of Human Rights for violation of freedom of expression

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday, June 15, pronounced two sentences against Turkey for violations of freedom of expression, against a public service employee and a student .

The first case concerns a contractual employee of the Turkish Ministry of National Education who had affixed the mention “Like” on Facebook to certain content, criticizing in particular the repressive practices of which the Turkish authorities are accused, or encouraging demonstrations against these practices. . The employee had been dismissed without compensation, the authorities considering that these references could “Disturb the peace and quiet of the workplace”. She was subsequently unsuccessful in court, while she asked for her reinstatement.

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Unanimously, the seven judges of the ECHR considered that this employee had been dismissed in violation of the right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. “Article 10 leaves little room for restrictions on freedom of expression in two areas: that of political discourse and that of questions of general interest”, underline the magistrates in their decision. They note that the reasons for the dismissal “Cannot be considered relevant and sufficient”. Turkey was therefore ordered to pay 2,000 euros to the former employee for “non-pecuniary damage”.

A student sentenced in 2012 for a speech of support

The second case concerns a student, convicted of a criminal offense after giving a speech in 2012 in support of students placed in police custody for opposing the arrival of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, on their university campus. The ECHR recognizes that the student’s words contained “A certain distrust and a dose of hostility” towards Mr. Erdogan, but underlines that “The limits of admissible criticism are wider with regard to a politician, referred to in this capacity, than to a private individual”.

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She believes that there is “No reasonable proportionality relationship” between the conviction of the student and “The legitimate aim of protecting the reputation of the data subject”. Again unanimously, the seven judges condemned Turkey for infringing freedom of expression, and ordered it to pay 2,000 euros to the student for “Moral damage”, and an additional 2,000 euros for costs and expenses.

The World with AFP