Turkey: Wronged teacher wins human rights court backing

A teacher, denied a new job because Turkey’s Ministry of Education used private information against him, has won the backing of the European court.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Yılmaz v. Turkey (application no. 36607/06) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and

a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life).

The case concerned the refusal by the Ministry of Education to appoint Abdullah Yılmaz to a teaching post abroad even though he had passed a competitive examination.

Yılmaz contended that his appointment had been refused for reasons relating to his and his wife’s private life.

Under the terms of Just satisfaction (Article 41), the court found that there was no cause to make an award to Yılmaz by way of just satisfaction, since he had not submitted any claims on that account.

At the time of the events, Yılmaz, a teacher of religious culture, had passed a competitive examination organised by the Ministry of Education for appointment to a teaching post abroad. He came second in the examination.

In August 2000, after the examination process had been completed, a document marked “secret” was issued, containing information about Yılmaz and his wife.

The document stated, among other things, that Yılmaz had spent several days in police custody in 1987 on suspicion of damaging a statue of Atatürk; that he practised gender segregation (haremlik selamlık) in his home; and that his wife followed the Islamic dress code in her daily life and wore a wig at the school where she worked.

The Ministry’s Evaluation Board subsequently drew up a list of 14 teachers who had passed the competitive examination but who, following an investigation of their circumstances under Article 15 of the Directive on Security and Archives, were deemed ineligible for the posts concerned. Yılmaz’s name appeared on the list.

The European court found that the length of the proceedings had been excessive. The court also held that the decision not to appoint Yılmaz to a post abroad had been motivated by factors relating to his private life and based on the findings of a security investigation that had revealed information about his way of life and his wife’s clothing.

The interference with Yılmaz’s right to respect for his private life had therefore not been necessary in a democratic society.




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