Russia takes ECHR violations championship from us

Russia takes ECHR violations championship from us

With every New Year toward the end of January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) releases the statistics of violations of the previous year.

The list of violation statistics is like a report card of countries before the universal law, the compliance to the European Convention on Human Rights and the practices of ECHR.

Turkey has been the unchallenged champion every year until the end of 2011. For the first time in 2012, the champion of violations was Russia. This year, the ranking did not change. Throughout the year, Turkey and Russia were in a fierce violation competition with each other, with Russia keeping the title by a neck.

The ECHR ruled a total of 797 judgments, finding at least one violation. Out of this total, 119 belonged to Russia while 118 to Turkey.

Actually, the court has ruled 124 decisions about Turkey in 2013. Among them, 118 of them contained at least one violation. The rate of violation is 95 percent. The ECHR decided only three of the complaints did not contain any violations (2.4 percent). Three other decisions fell under other categories. The figures of 2012 are also similar. The rate is again 95 percent.

How should we read these numbers? You can say when the ECHR processes the complaints coming from Turkish citizens, in a vast majority of them, it rules the state is wrong. Statistics have a meaningful consistency in this respect.

Indeed, Turkey’s situation should also be reviewed comparatively. The ranking of the first 15 countries in the violations of rights statistics of 2013 is this: Russia 119, Turkey 118, Romania 83, Ukraine 65, Hungary 40, Italy 34, Greece 32, France 28, Bulgaria 25, Slovenia 24, Croatia 22, Serbia 21, Moldova 18, Slovakia 16, Poland 14...

When we look at the bottom ranks of this list, we see Sweden and Finland have three, Norway has two and Ireland has one violation. Denmark and Holland have none.

There is an important observation we can make in this context. The inclination that is crystal clear in the past years in the ECHR is that Turkey and Russia have the worst record in the ECHR. These two countries are followed by a close set of former East Bloc countries such as Romania, Ukraine and Hungary.

We have fallen to the second rank in the statistics released by the court, but when the entire violation judgments of the ECHR in its 55-year history are taken into consideration, it comes up that we cling on to our position on the top.

When you review all the violation judgments the court has reached from 1959 to the end of 2013, Turkey, with a total of 2,639 judgments that find at least one violation, emerges as the violation champion of the ECHR of all times.

In this list, the second place goes to Italy with 1721 judgments finding at least one violation. Russia follows this with 1381 judgments, Ukraine with 948 judgments and Poland with 885 judgments.

An aspect worth noticing in this context is the court started functioning in 1959, but Turkey waited until 1987 before it accepted the individual right to apply. Turkey has been in this system for 26 years, but it came from the back and won the first place in a short time.

This situation brings to mind the question, “What if Turkey had been in the individual application system since 1959, then how would the figures look?”

Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this abridged piece was published on Feb 4. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.