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MEHMET ALİ BİRAND > Turkey has paid 350 million fines in 10 years because of judicial mistakes

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Turkey is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. In other words, it has signed the document and has pledged that it would comply with the provisions of this convention. It is binding. It has accepted that human rights in our country are just as valid as in Europe. 

Turkey has also accepted that its citizens can individually apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the international court that monitors whether or not the convention is properly applied. According to this, if a Turkish citizen believes justice was not met at a Turkish court, after exhausting all domestic paths, if he or she still believes his or her rights have been violated, then he or she can apply to the ECHR. 
This system was started in the 1990s during the Özal era, and its effectiveness was particularly felt after 2000. Judges were trained; the European Convention on Human Rights and ECHR decisions were translated and distributed; it was explained to judges that they had to comply with these principles. 

However, a portion of our judges disregarded the ECHR, saying, “our country has special conditions - there cannot be a fight against terror otherwise,” or using other justifications. Another portion did not take into consideration ECHR decisions, despite all warnings, and in the end there were 3,700 cases opened against Turkey. 

According to figures provided by the Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs, the fines that the state has paid to its victimized citizens have totaled around 352 million Turkish Liras. 

Whether this should be called carelessness or extravagance, I don’t know. Whatever it is called, it is now the end of this period. This result must have been achieved because it was not the judges themselves paying the fines. Finally, the public recognized. The Finance Ministry recognized. Somebody took action to claim that money, which is actually coming out of your and our pockets. 

With the enacting of the new justice reform packages, judges will be held responsible for the decisions they have made. Moreover, they have nowhere to escape now. This is because any verdict that has been rejected by the ECHR is explained to the judges with all its reasons and justifications. Examples are given and it is said: “You have to act this way.” 

In other words, there is only one way. 

Any judge who receives numerous fines from the ECHR will also take responsibility for this. His or her personal scores will be lowered. 

Actually, there was no need for all of this. However, no business is finished in our society without forcing… 

Specially authorized courts have lost 

No matter what is said, the Specially Authorized Courts have lost their respectability in the eyes of a significant portion of the public. Their verdicts will no longer be credible. The main reason why we have come to this stage is that they have used the powers attributed to them very roughly. 

A more difficult position for a judicial body cannot be imagined. 

If you use your powers in an exaggerated way because of inexperience, lack of proper training or due to a feeling of revenge; and if you inflict wounds in the public conscience, then -- even if you work miracles -- you have no credibility.

Once the society decides on something, once a perception is confirmed, then it is over. Even if it is wrong, it is very hard to change it. We have entered such an era with the “specially authorized courts.”

June/13/2012

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