Freedom of association of the minorities de facto suspended - report
The election regulation for the boards of minority foundations that was elaborated by the General Directorate of Foundations in Turkey has hindered the minorities to select board of directors for their foundations, said The Freedom of Belief Initiative in a report titled “Narrow Election – “Policy text of the minority foundations election regulation in the light of human rights principles,” written in collaboration with Norwegian Helsinki Committe.
The report, penned by Arno Kalayci, a researcher in the Research Centre for Justice and Governance, claims that freedom of association of minorities in Turkey has been de facto suspended.
According to the report, the regulation, which took effect in June this year put aside internationally protected minority rights in Turkey, as it was politicized and shaped by the government, although it is the duty of the Foundations Council to decide on the draft regulations regarding foundations.
INTERNATIONAL PRINCIPLES IGNORED
The report said that the principles laid down by the Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and other international human rights mechanisms and the Constitutional Court were not taken into account during the preparation process of the new regulation. The new regulation was not prepared through a process in which different social segments of minority communities took part as stakeholders.
DEMANDS AND NEEDS WERE BRUSHED ASIDE
Critical and previously known problems, such as the constituency, the residence requirement for candidacy and election and the determination of the election organization committees by the current administrative board were arranged in a way contrary to demands and needs.
Similarly, despite all objections and criticisms, the elections of foundations with hospitals were postponed and no legal justification was presented for this.
The last ten years saw minorities demanding from politicians to benefit from their fundamental rights and freedoms, and neither the national assembly nor the relevant ministries, judicial institutions were effective in solving the problems.
By blocking the election of the board of directors of minority foundations, the administration has de facto suspended important elements of the collective dimension of minorities' freedom of association and religion in Turkey for a long time and limited the fundamental rights and freedoms of minorities violating the Constitution.
The judiciary has become dysfunctional in the legal struggles carried out by minorities with limited means and left the solution of the problems to the political power.
SUGGESTIONS TO ELIMINATE THE IMPACT
The report also suggested some steps to take to eliminate the impact by the interventions to the collective dimension of minorities' freedom of association belief. These are:
• Turkey should join to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, and the reservations in other international conventions should be removed.
• Barriers to freedom of association, religion or belief of minorities in national law should be removed.
• Necessary legal arrangements should be made with broad participation of minorities in order for minorities to acquire legal personality and to enjoy their right to be free in their internal affairs in an equal and effective manner.
• Measures to ensure de facto equality should be implemented. In this context, a share from the public budget should be allocated to minority institutions, especially foundations with schools and places of worship.
• Selective and discriminatory interventions regarding constituency, candidacy and votership, which are included in the regulation, should be ended, and an arrangement should be made that allows all minority foundations to hold elections. Restrictive control mechanisms should be abolished and democratic elections should be ensured.
• Article 25, which postpones the elections of the board of directors of foundations with hospitals, should be repealed.
• Fundamental steps should be taken for the judiciary to have an effective function regarding minority rights.