Turkey is the country that most commonly falls foul of the European Court of Human Rights. The majority of Turkey’s violations concern the length of legal proceedings, right to a fair trial, abuses of the right to liberty and security, freedom of speech and excessive use of force by security forces. .
If the recent tendency by AKP government’s most senior figures to prescribe morality is anything to go by, we may see an increase in the number of cases relating to violation of privacy, too.
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights says “Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”.
The right to a private life means that you have the right to conduct your life privately, without government interference, as long as you also respect the rights of other people.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s condemnation of female and male students’ sharing accommodation and threatening to take measures against this clearly goes against the principal of right to private life without state interference.
Talking about insufficiency of dormitories in the town of Denizli leading to male and female university students staying under one roof, the prime minister is reported as telling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies at a party meeting that the practice was against their conservative, democratic character. We have been assured that the governor of Denizli had been instructed to deal with the matter.
How exactly the authorities could inspect and audit private accommodations of university students isn’t very clear.
This is not the only example of the government to set itself the task of improving the moral character of country’s citizens according to their political and religious vision.
In Turkey, government interference in the lives of others seems to happen more and more frequently these days.
Once the comments of this kind by the most senior leaders of the country become accepted as legitimate, there is little to stop others in authority or in society to interfere in the lives of individuals they disapprove.
In a democratic country, adults are free to make their own lifestyle decisions.
Governments have no business to promote conservative or any other kind of life style in order to define, licence or restrict people’s personal relationships.
Their duty is to make sure their citizens enjoy their right to a private life, in which they are free to participate in economic, social, cultural and recreational activities of their community.
In a country where media is full of stories of domestic violence every day, of abusive husbands and relatives killing women at home and on the street, the state’s obligation is to protect.
Researchers from Gaziantep University have revealed that almost 40% of marriages in Turkey are child marriages. In a country where one in three marriages involves a minor, state’s obligation is to prevent.
When recent statistics from the General Directorate of Criminal Records and Statistics between 2008 and 2012 show that child abuse and sexual harassment were on the rise in Turkey, the state’s obligation is to prevent and protect.
Turkish state has a positive obligation to undertake specific preventative or protective actions to secure ECHR rights as well as a negative obligation to refrain from taking certain actions such as not placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of its citizens to practise those rights.
Prime minister says it is against his conservative democratic character to have adult women and men of university age to live together under one roof.
Feeling embarrassed to see Turkey becoming notorious as the the most frequently condemned country in the history of the ECHR, many of us are increasingly finding it against our character to live with the kind of democracy the Prime minister and his party is trying to conserve.
This post is also available in: Turkish