Türkiye: Constitutional Court should uphold decisions by the European Court of Human Rights

A coalition of international human rights organizations and esteemed legal professionals has penned an open letter to Prof. Dr Zühtü Arslan, the President of the Constitutional Court of Türkiye, expressing concerns over the Turkish judiciary's adherence to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The letter begins by referencing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe’s decision, which emphasizes the shared responsibility of all national authorities, including the judiciary, to ensure compliance with the ECHR’s judgments as per Article 46 of the Convention. The group expressed disappointment at the Turkish Constitutional Court’s (TCC) defiance of the ECHR judgments (namely Hakan Bas and Alparslan Altan judgments) in the case of Yıldırım Turan.

The authors stated a recent judgment by the Court of Cassation that defied the ECHR’s rulings is also a cause of serious concern.

Furthermore, the letter delves into the ECHR’s recent Yüksel Yalçınkaya judgment as evidence of problematic interpretations of state security laws by the Turkish judiciary.

The ECHR, in the Yalçınkaya case, found violations of principles including “no punishment without law,” the right to a fair trial, and freedom of assembly. The judgment criticized Türkiye’s broad and vague interpretation of Article 314 of the Penal Code. In addition, in the Yalçınkaya case, the ECHR’s Grand Chamber emphasized a systemic problem in the Turkish judiciary’s approach to state security laws, highlighting the 8,000 pending applications and an expected 100,000 new applications that are likely to echo similar concerns.

The co-signatories acknowledge the challenges Türkiye faced in the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt and the resulting state of emergency. However, they urge a return to standard judicial procedures, particularly as five years have elapsed since the state of emergency was lifted. In a call to action, the letter emphasizes the potential of the TCC to lead positive change and improve the human rights situation in Türkiye.

The authors express hope that the TCC addresses this systemic problem in line with the ECHR’s Yüksel Yalçınkaya judgment and, in doing so the TCC can leave a legacy marked by pride, justice, and fairness.

The letter is co-signed by 22 entities and individuals, including prominent organizations such as the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, The Italian Federation for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and The Arrested Lawyers Initiative. Also among the signatories are renowned legal professionals, academics, and advocates for human rights from various countries.

Letter to the President of TCC

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