Turkey fails to implement ECHR decisions

Turkey fails to implement ECHR decisions

In 2016, Turkey ranked second after Russia as the country with the most European Convention of Human Rights violations, according to European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convictions.

Turkey is also first of the 47 ECHR-countries regarding the number of convictions incurred over the course of its 30-year-long recognition of the court’s jurisdiction.

The implementation of ECHR decisions comprises another hugely problematic dimension in terms of Turkey’s stance vis-a-vis the court.

When the court hands a sentence, the Council of Europe initiates procedures to monitor the execution of the ruling. As Turkey has recognized the ECHR’s jurisdiction, the Council of Europe is obligated to scrutinize the court’s rulings.

This subjection-to-scrutiny can be seen as a precondition for joining the Council of Europe. What does implementation entail?

If the violation concerns incompatible legislation, the relevant law or decree needs to be changed. If the violation stems from certain judicial practices, those practices need to be rectified through legal or administrative measures. The point is to eliminate the violation. By preventing the repetition of a violation, a country is able to draw closer to the legal standards of the ECHR.

During the implementation phase, the ball leaves the ECHR court and enters the jurisdiction of the Committee of Ministers, the political wing of the Council of Europe. A ruling’s file is only closed when the Committee of Ministers confirms that the country has implemented the decision satisfactorily. Uncertainty means the monitoring process continues. In addition to standard monitoring, closed monitoring is enforced on decisions considered important.

According to the Turkey country report prepared by the relevant department within the Council of Europe, the number of ECHR judgments waiting to be implemented had reached 1430 by the end of 2016. This number appears to have dropped to 1384 for 2017, according to statistics accessed on July 20, 2017.

If we consider that the ECHR has ruled 2889 times against Turkey in 30 years, with the violation of at least one article per ruling, we reach the following conclusion: Turkey has executed only 52 percent of violation rulings (meaning it has eliminated the cause of those violations). This means 48 percent of rulings still await implementation.

According to the same report, although Turkey successfully dealt with 274 violation rulings in 2016, the country also received 114 new violation rulings, which means new implementation measures to enact. Turkey’s performance looks best in the years 2013 and 2014, with 327 and 409 file closures.

This is largely due to judicial reform packages endorsed during these years.

Italy stands out as the country with the worst record on the enactment of ECHR decisions. There were 2230 decisions awaiting implementation as of July 2017. Russia ranks second with 1,498, and Turkey third.

In comparison, Sweden only had one decision to implement as of July 2017. Germany had 19. Norway had one decision in 2016, but has since closed that file. If you look up Norway in the relevant database, you will see the number zero next to the country’s name.

Sedat Ergin, hdn, opinion