Turkey’s top court rules that ‘rushed expropriation’ is a violation of rights
Oya Armutçu - ANKARAThe Constitutional Court has ruled that a “rushed expropriation” decision, made despite the Council of State’s decision for a stay of execution, for the Pembelik Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Perisuyu River in the eastern province of Elazığ, is a violation of property rights.
The ruling comes after the Constitutional Court accepted an individual application from four villagers, who applied on the ground that the expropriation proceedings were a violation of their property rights. The decision in the pilot case has also been marked as an exemplary ruling for 200 waiting applications.
“It is understood that the intervention into the property right is not lawful because the urgent expropriation decision was canceled. It must be decided that the property right, guaranteed in Article 35 of the Constitution, is violated,” the decision stated.
Four villagers whose lands were expropriated for the construction of the Perisuyu Dam had applied to the Constitutional Court on Nov. 10, 2015 on the grounds that their “property rights were violated due to the completion of the expropriation proceedings without considering the stay of execution decision of the Council of Ministers.”
The Constitutional Court ordered the payment of 4,880 Turkish Liras in pecuniary damages and 5,000 liras in non-pecuniary damages for each applicant.
The court recalled that “urgent expropriation” is an exceptional procedure that can only be ordered for security reasons, or when the Council of Ministers decides on the “urgency.”
The villagers’ lawyer, Mehmet Horus, said rushed expropriation of immovable property is a “war law” practice.
“The Constitutional Court has decided that rushed expropriation is a violation of the right to the peaceful use of property. We say that this is a ‘war law’ practice,” Horus told daily Hürriyet.
“The Council of State has ruled for the cancellation of the expropriated 100 times, stating that ‘rushed expropriations can only be used in exceptional cases like war and national mobilization.’ The cancellation decisions were being made ineffective, but the Constitutional Court has made a decision that strengthens the Council of State,” he added.
The villagers had appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), but the legal procedure was awaiting the Constitutional Court ruling.
“The Constitutional Court evaluated the issue within the perspective of property. But it stated that it cannot rule on the violation of environmental rights. So we will appeal to the ECHR on this ground,” Horus said.
Ministry: ‘The loss of natural life is of less importance’
The Justice Ministry, from which the Constitutional Court asked for an opinion on the pilot file, stated that the court should consider the fact that in the case the construction of the dam was to be realized within the scope of big energy and irrigation projects. The ministry also stated that the court should consider the fact that the dam contributes positively to the social and economic life of the people living in the region, and that the loss of natural life is of less importance.
It was argued that the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision for a stay of execution was related to the expropriation process, not to the determination of the expropriation value and the registration case.