Turkey reduced number of ECHR violations in 2019, minister says

Turkey reduced number of ECHR violations in 2019, minister says

Turkey reduced number of ECHR violations in 2019, minister says

Judges of the European Court of Human Rights sit in the courtroom during a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, June 10, 2015. (Reuters)

Turkey saw a decline in the number of rights violations cases taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2019, as the number of times the Strasbourg-based court ruled that Turkey violated rights dropped to record low levels, according to the country’s justice minister.

According to the figures Abdulhamit Gül provided, the ECHR’s rights violations rulings against Turkey decreased to 96 from 140 in 2019, in comparison with the previous year.

“These figures decreased from 53 to 15 regarding [the right to a] free trial, from 29 to nine on [the right to] freedoms and security – including arrests – and was reduced from 11 to two concerning the right to freedom of association and assembly,” Gül said.

The minister’s remarks came during a meeting with the Ankara bureau chiefs of media outlets, where he made a judicial assessment of 2019.

Gül also said that in 2019, some 732 cases concerning Turkey have been finalized.

The number of pending cases against Turkey decreased to 680, a record low level in the country’s history, he added.

A former report by the Justice Ministry showed that Turkey in 2018 ranked second in human rights violations, followed by Russia, which had a total of 238 rulings on rights violations.

‘2019, a year of reform for Turkey’

According to the minister, 2019 was a year that saw the initiation of many reforms in Turkey.

“Last year we took really important reformist steps in our judicial system. We actualized many changes in which our citizens’ access to justice and right to a free trial at a reasonable time will be strengthened,” he said.

Gül also added that Turkey realized such reforms thanks to its Justice Reform Strategy Document.

The Turkish Parliament on Oct. 17 adopted a bill of 39 articles - the first package of the Judicial Reform Strategy Document. The bill oversees amendments in 15 pieces of legislation.

The first package includes many changes from freedom of expression to accelerated court proceedings and an audio and visual system for administrative hearings.

“During this process, we determined our vision as ‘A Reliable and Accessible Justice System’,” Gül said.

Reforms idle without judicial independence

Regarding the implementation of the planned reforms, the minister underlined that the authority lies within the members of the judiciary.

“It is the members of the judiciary that will bring these reforms to our nation. The execution of judicial duty especially belongs with the judicial authorities,” he said.

“There can be wrongs or deficiencies in judiciary rulings. The correction of these mistakes should again be left to the usual functioning of the judiciary,” he added.

The minister also stressed the judiciary’s independence, saying the only authority it will take orders from is the Constitution and the laws.

“The judiciary is only under the command of law, not an ideology or this-or-that [interest] group,” he said.

“It should be known that we will be against any initiation opposing this approach,” he added.