Euro court rejects case on trial length

Euro court rejects case on trial length

Euro court rejects case on trial length

Photo shows a view of the Constitutional Court in Ankara. Turkish citizens have the right to personally apply the Constitutional Court for vioations with regard to their rights and freedoms arising from the European Convention on Human Rights. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZ

A compensation board recently established in Turkey has been designated as the ultimate domestic legal body by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as part of a debate on the length of the Turkish judicial process.

The ruling was issued after a complaint concerning a breach of the “reasonable time” requirement was rejected due to a failure to exhaust domestic legal avenues due to the recently established Compensation Board founded on Sept. 23, 2012. The court maintained that applicants should apply to the Compensation Board in advance, as this was an accessible remedy capable of offering them a reasonable chance of redress for their complaints. The ECHR only admits complaints once all the domestic remedies have been exhausted.

In its ruling released on April 11, the ECHR noted that the present application had been lodged with it before the law had come into force, which makes the court’s relevant ruling an exception, as announced by the Registrar of the Court. The application was initiated at a time when the applicants had not had an effective remedy under Turkish law in which they could complain about the length of the proceedings in question.

Case to be seen by Compensation Board

The ECHR gave its opinion in the wake of the case “Müdür Turgut and Others v. Turkey.” Müdür Turgut and Nihat Kasun were arrested on Dec. 26, 1999, while Mahmut Han and Cemal Kilikli were arrested on Feb. 16 and 17, 2000, by the police on suspicion of links with a terrorist organization. They were charged by the public prosecutor of belonging and assisting a terrorist organization and extorting funds for this purpose. They lodged an appeal in 2001, which remained pending until an application was lodged with the ECHR on Jan. 7, 2009, under case law no. 6384. The applicants complained that the length of the proceedings had failed to satisfy the “reasonable time” requirement. They also alleged that there had been a breach of the right to an effective remedy on the grounds that there was no remedy in Turkey by which to complain of the excessive length of proceedings.

“The court held in this case that law no. 6384 was a direct and practical consequence of the pilot-judgment procedure applied in Ümmühan Kaplan v. Turkey (no. 24240/07) of March 20, 2012, designed to remedy complaints relating to the excessive length of proceedings.

Although that law was not in force when the applicants lodged their application, the court declared that it was not in a position to state at the present stage of the proceedings that the remedy currently available was not effective and accessible. It followed that the complaint had to be rejected for failure to exhaust domestic remedies,” the ECHR said in announcing its decision.

The Compensation Board is an initiative of the Turkish government to prevent further fines from the ECHR and decrease the number of applications against Turkey at the ECHR, following a charter change permitting individuals to file cases at the Constitutional Court.

As of Sept. 24, 2012, Turkish citizens have the right to personally apply to the Constitutional Court for alleged violations with regard to their fundamental rights and freedoms arising from the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.