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ECtHR faults Turkey for monitoring 3 inmates’ meetings with lawyers

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Turkish authorities’ monitoring and recording of three applicants’ meetings with their lawyers while they were in pretrial detention violated their right to respect for private life, ordering the government to pay non-pecuniary damages and costs and expenses.

In the ruling released on Tuesday, the ECtHR said it decided to combine the applications of three Turkish nationals, Mehmet Ali Canavcı, Ramazan Çaylı and Harun Altun, due to to their similar subject matter. The applications were lodged on various dates between 2018 and 2020.

The applicants complained that the monitoring by an prison officer of their lawyers’ visits and the recording of those meetings had contravened their right to confidential communication with their lawyers, in violation of their right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). They also complained of a lack of an effective domestic remedy, relying on Article 13 of the ECHR.

The court stated that a person’s communication with a lawyer in the context of legal assistance falls within the scope of private life since the purpose of such interaction is to allow an individual to make informed decisions about his or her life, adding that individuals who consult a lawyer can reasonably expect that their communication is private and confidential.

Concluding that there was a violation of Article 8 of the ECHR, the court ordered the Turkish government to pay 9,750 euros to each of the applicants in non-pecuniary damages, in addition to 2,000 euros to Canavcı, 4,942 euros to Çaylı and 2,184 euros to Altun for costs and expenses.

The first two applicants were detained on charges of attempting to overthrow the government due to their links to the faith-based Gülen movement, while Altun was detained for membership in an armed terrorist organization. The applicants were detained by different courts on different dates.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has labeled the movement, inspired by the teachings of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, as a terrorist organization and accuses it of having orchestrated a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The group strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Former prosecutor Canavcı on Tuesday shared the ruling on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying that they are “duty-bound to protect our homeland and flag” as judges and prosecutors dismissed by emergency decrees.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

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