Decision of the Ministry of Refugees in Cabuk’s case is illegal, unfounded and politically motivated
The below signatory organizations issue this statement in reaction to the decision of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia (hereinafter, the Ministry) to deny refugee status for Mustafa Emre Cabuk. We believe that the decision is clearly unfounded, arbitrary and serves as an unprincipled expression of political loyalty towards Turkey’s undemocratic regime.
The Ministry has cited legality and legitimacy of the persecution against followers of Fethullah Gülen movement, release of some of the individuals arrested following the military coup, improvement of human rights situation in prisons in Turkey and access to the right to a fair trial, as well as diplomatic guarantees received from Turkey for protection of Emre Cabuk’s rights in Turkey, as arguments for justifying its 7 July 2017 decision.
The Ministry’s decision about Cabuk’s case is clearly unfounded and is not supported by findings of adequate examination of the case, objective evidence and realistic assessment of human rights situation and political context in the country of origin. Among other things, the text fails to refer to and refute extremely critical reports produced by international organizations about grave human rights and political situation in Turkey.
The Ministry’s decision is centered on a disputable argument that the organization of Fethullah Gülen is designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey and the criminal prosecution instituted by the state against actions of members of the organization is legitimate. The Ministry has stated the above while completely disregarding statements and reports of international organization about gross and blanket violations of fundamental human rights in the process of criminal prosecution against individuals affiliated with the Fethullah Gülen movement, which essentially removes any attributes of legality from the process and turns it into a political one.
The practice of torture in Turkey was condemned by the European Commission, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), the UN Rapporteur on Torture, the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights. The most recent resolution of the European Parliament, adopted on 6 July 2017, highlights acts of torture and inhuman treatment in Turkey’s penitentiary facilities; lack of their investigation and local and international monitoring, as well as absence of guarantees for the right to a fair trial. In 2016, the Venice Commission criticized provisions of Turkey’s Criminal Code that have been applied to Mustafa Cabuk’s case and stated that they fall short of foreseeability standards and open the way for arbitrary prosecutions. Here we must also note that following the 15 July 2016 military coup Turkey demanded arrest and extradition of 59 members of FETO but none of them have been extradited by European countries.
Under these circumstances it is safe to say that the Ministry has drawn absurd and unreasonable conclusions about existence of guarantees of right to fair trial in Turkey and absence of ill-treatment in penitentiary institutions.
Further, although Cabuk has been charged with a crime allegedly committed on the territory of Georgia meaning that the case falls under the jurisdiction of Georgia, which provides the state with a legal basis to refuse his extradition, the Ministry hasn’t even addressed substantiation of the charges.
The decision made by the ministry states that Georgia received diplomatic guarantees in connection to Cabuk’s case to ensure that his rights will be protected. This gives rise to a suspicion that the Georgian authorities plan to transfer him to Turkey in the future, which would amount to extreme violation and gross disregard of fundamental human rights.
In light of the foregoing, the signatory organizations:
-Condemn the clearly unfounded, illegal decision made by the Ministry, and urge it to work in strict abidance by the international human rights standards. It should not allow politicization of processes in similar cases and ensure that they keep to the legal frame;
-Urge common courts to handle the case in abidance by human rights standards after appealing of the decision, and perform their constitutional function of checks and balances over the executive branch effectively;
-Urge the Ministry of Justice and the Georgian Government not to allow Cabuk’s extradition to Turkey because any such decision will essentially violate fundamental human rights and call the quality of democracy in Georgia into question;
-The Parliament of Georgia should realize political and social contexts in Cabuk’s case and provide effective parliamentary control over it.
Detailed critical legal analysis of the Ministry’s decision is available below.
The statement is signed by the following organizations:
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Georgian Democratic Initiative (GDI)
Transparency International – Georgia
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
Media Development Fund (MDF)
UN Association in Georgia
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Article 41 of the Constitution