Turkey complaints pile up at European rights court

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - The European Court of Human Rights has over the past fortnight received a "substantial" number of complaints from Turkish nationals targeted in Ankara's post-coup crackdown, a spokesman said Monday.

"We have had 850 new petitions of late, of which 450 were filed in the past week," said spokesman Patrick Titiun.

Receiving such a large number in such a short space of time is "rare", he said, while stressing that it was not immediately clear "what proportion (of them) would be ultimately considered as admissable."

Before the influx, the court was already handling 7,750 cases involving Turkey.

Earlier on Monday, Council of Europe chief Thorbjorn Jagland expressed concern over the huge increase in petitions from Turkey.

"Even in a state of emergency, all Turkish nationals have the right to petition the court," he said at a press conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

"That is why we are discussing ways in which Turkey can deal with all these problems in order to avoid thousands of requests coming to the court."

But if the Turkish authorities failed to act in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, the number of cases before the court was likely to increase drastically.

- MP arrests 'deplorable' -

In early October, the Council's human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks urged Ankara to act "as soon as possible" to end the state of emergency put in place in the wake of the failed July 15 coup.

Last week, he slammed as "deplorable" Turkey's arrest of 13 staff from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, including the editor-in-chief.

Since July 15, the Turkish authorities have carried out an unprecedented crackdown, arresting some 35,000 people, according to justice ministry figures released at the end of October.

Ankara has also fired tens of thousands from the civil service, the judiciary, the media, education and the military.

Late last week, the authorities found a new focus, arresting nine MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), including its two co-leaders.

Western countries have reacted strongly, saying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be using the state of emergency declared after the coup as a tool to increasingly clampdown on criticism.

The ECHR, whose judges come from each of the 47 members of the Council of Europe, was established by the 1953 European Convention on Human Rights.

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