Panel to decide pay for lengthy trial complaints

Panel to decide pay for lengthy trial complaints

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Panel to decide pay for lengthy trial complaints

The government hopes that the European Court of Human Rights will receive fewer complaints from Turkey. Hürriyet photo

Parliament approved a bill Jan. 9 aiming to resolve applications to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding complaints on lengthy trial periods by issuing financial compensation to plaintiffs.

The move is another endeavor by Turkey to decrease the huge number of applications lodged against the country at the ECHR and to improve its dismal human rights record.

“We aim to settle with our citizens who appealed to the ECHR by mutual consent, this is our main objective. We intend to reconcile with our citizens in Ankara. In this way, our citizens will not have to take the trouble to claim their rights in Strasbourg. Turkey will not receive additional violation rulings [regarding the European Convention on Human Rights] in the Strasbourg court,” Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said during parliamentary debates.

All parties to benefit
The government, the ECHR and Turkish plaintiffs will benefit from the new bill at the same time, according to Ergin. “Our [plaintiff] citizens will benefit; they will not wait for too long. The government will prevent further violation rulings and the number of files before the ECHR will decrease,” the minister said.

According to the bill, a commission will be set up in order to review cases in which investigations and prosecutions within criminal law and trials within administrative law are not finalized within a reasonable period and which have already been filed in the ECHR. Cases in which court rulings were executed in an untimely manner or not executed fully or at all will be covered by this law.

The commission will be comprised of four judges or prosecutors appointed by the Justice Ministry and a fifth member who will be appointed by the Finance Ministry. The commission will then rule on whether to pay compensation within nine months after the application. The commission will carry out administrative and not judicial activity, Ergin said. It will examine whether there was a lengthy trial or not according to ECHR criteria.

The Turkish government hopes this commission will prevent further fines from the ECHR. The ECHR announced in March 2011 that it would not accept any case from Turkey in connection with long trial periods until September, as Ankara was drafting a formula to address the issue. The bill is another effort aimed to decrease the number of applications against Turkey at the ECHR, following the implementation of individual access to the Constitutional Court. As of Sept. 24, 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.