ECHR retribution for judges and prosecutors

ECHR retribution for judges and prosecutors

A procedure, launched last year, has been put into practice this year. 

In short, Turkey has to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ensures the observance of the convention by contracting states to all freedoms and human rights. Turkish justice must therefore comply with the convention and the verdicts of the ECHR.

However, this mechanism does not work. One of Turkey’s deepest wounds is that despite being a signatory to the international convention and having undertaken an engagement, it cannot harmonize its justice with the European Convention on Human Rights. When the situation is like this, the ECHR constantly issues verdicts about violations made by Turkey. 

There have been thousands of applications to the ECHR so far and thousands of other applications are currently in process. Turkey has been fined millions of euros. In the 52-year-old history of Turkey-ECHR relations, Turkey has been sentenced 2,404 times. In contrast with this figure, it has been recognized as right in only 57 cases. Some 204 of the cases ended in friendly settlement. Presently, there are 15,940 applications waiting in line at the ECHR against Turkey. 

One of the most important reasons we are in this situation is that our judges and prosecutors somehow do not take the verdicts of the ECHR sufficiently into account. When they are reaching a verdict, they do not review similar verdicts at the court. 

In the end, the case goes to the ECHR and a violation decision is reached. Next comes compensation. 
A new practice to stop this vicious circle has been introduced. A decision of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) dated Sept. 30, 2011 was put into practice by the Justice Ministry last month. 

According to the decision, all the verdicts of the ECHR have been translated and opened to the access of judges. Nobody now will be able to say: “I did not know.” Those verdicts that are considered violations by the ECHR and the judges and the prosecutors of these verdicts are reported to the HSYK.

After the Supreme Board reviews cases that have been fined by the ECHR, it puts the verdict in the personal files of the judges and prosecutors, for consideration during their promotion. 

In other words, our prosecutors and judges will have to take the European Court seriously now. They cannot say any more: “This is Turkey, we have special conditions” and introduce different interpretations and practices contrary to Europe. Otherwise, they will be losing points from their personal records.

This is a much better warning and more influential method than passing a law or imposing penalties.

Difficult not to be suspicious 

The Deniz Feneri (Lighthouse) case is one of those cases that the Turkish justice system will have hard time answering for. Maybe there is no connection, but it does leave a bad smell in the public nose. It is felt that politics is involved.

The German leg of this case ended with, “The real perpetrators are in Turkey.” Four years have passed. The first appointed Turkish prosecutors started an investigation that would have fallen into the category of organized corruption-organized crime. However, they have been relieved of duty on the grounds that they exceeded their jurisdiction and fabricated documents.

The prosecutors who replaced them could not detect any organization or any forgery. It was treated as a minor offense of forged documents and negligence. 

Strange, isn’t it? 

There are bad smells coming from Deniz Feneri incident but somehow the judiciary is watching. The Organized Crime Department is tackling files full of so many lies that the reason for the postponing of the Deniz Feneri file has caused the bad smells to increase.