Turkey tops ECHR list in freedom of expression violations in 2015
Journalists shout slogans and hold placards on January 10, 2016 during a march marking Journalism Day on İstiklal avenue in Istanbul as they protest against the imprisonment of journalists. AFP Photo
Turkey was the subject of the highest number of judgments regarding violations of freedom of expression in 2015, the European Court of Human Rights’ annual activity report revealed on Jan. 28, with the country second only to Russia in the total number of violations.
The court determined a violation of freedom of expression in a total 28 cases throughout 2015, 10 of which were committed by Turkey, the ECHR’s annual statistics revealed. Turkey more than tripled the violations of its closest follower, France, which has three rulings against it.
Turkey’s record on cases involving freedom of expression violations is not new, as the country single-handedly committed more violations than the rest of the member states combined in 2014, committing 24 of the total 47 violations.
While Turkey’s negative record on freedom of expression violation stands out, the country’s most pressing problem with regards to its responsibilities under the European Convention on Human Rights is the right to a fair trial.
In 2015, the court ruled on 87 cases brought against Turkey and at least one violation was found in 79 of the cases.
Twenty of the 120 violations were on the right to a fair trial. This was followed by a lack of effective investigation on inhuman or degrading treatment (14), the right to liberty and security (13) and the lack of effective investigation on the right to life (13).
This figure fits the general pattern of the court’s overall findings, as annual statistics reveal the right to a fair trial was the subject matter in which the highest percentage of violations were determined across member states of the Council of Europe (CoE).
According to data made public by the ECHR, a violation of the right to a fair trial was found in 24.18 percent of all cases where the judge determined a violation of the convention. A close second was the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (23.6 percent), and the third was the right to liberty and security (15.63 percent).
Overall, Turkey is the state with the second highest number of judgments, second only to Russia with 109 judgments against it.
However, the country tops the list if one considers all of the court’s rulings between 1959, when it was established, and 2015.
According to the data, Turkey was found in violation of at least one article in a total 3,182 cases. Turkey’s closest followers are Italy and Russia with 2,336 and 1,720 judgments against them, respectively.