Turkey’s top court cancels law on assemblies upon main opposition’s application
Turkey’s top court has canceled several articles in a law on assemblies and demonstrations upon an application by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The Constitutional Court has found the CHP’s application regarding the Law number 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations right and canceled the articles that stipulate “ending the assemblies and demonstrations before sunset, a ban on them from being carried out on public roads and not making daily lives of citizens difficult.”
According to the ruling published in the Official Gazette, a total of 119 CHP deputies applied to the Constitutional Court for the cancelation of several articles, including the sixth, seventh and the 22nd, in law number 2911.
In its application, the CHP objected to a number of articles, including those that say “In provinces and districts, the location and route of the assemblies and demonstrations will be determined by the site’s biggest administrative chief,” “Assemblies and marches and the gatherings for that purpose can’t start before sunrise. The assemblies and marches that are in open spaces can be carried out in a way that must be dispersed before sunset and those in closed spaces can be conducted until 12 a.m.” and “Gatherings cannot be organized on public roads and parks, sanctuaries, buildings and facilities that include public service and their extensions and within an area a kilometer away from parliament. No marches can be carried out on intercity highways.”
The top court, in return, canceled the articles that stipulate “ending the assemblies and demonstrations before sunset, a ban on them from being carried out in public roads and not making daily lives of citizens difficult.”
In its ruling, the court reminded that the constitution’s 34th article says “Everyone has the right to organize assemblies and demonstrations without using arms and attacking without obtaining permission.”
The court also said the right to organize assemblies and marches are closely linked to freedom of expression and provides the basis of a democratic society, adding that the sensitivity and importance shown to freedom of expression in a democratic society must also be shown for the right to organize assemblies and demonstrations.
The ruling also said that the right to organize demonstrations and assemblies pave the way for the country’s issues to be solved in a peaceful and consensual manner.
Regarding the sixth article on the effects of assemblies and demonstrations on the daily lives of citizens, the court said the gatherings and marches in places open to public may limit the rights and freedoms of other people to a certain extent, but that doesn’t necessitate a ban on assemblies and marches.
According to the ruling, interference to the right to organize demonstrations and assemblies in democratic societies is only possible if it is absolutely required.
“No measures were introduced regarding the extent of the effect on daily lives in the articles subject to the case. This removes the necessity of the interference in the right to organize assemblies and demonstrations in a democratic society and makes it unmeasured,” the court said.
With regards to the timing of the assemblies and gatherings, the court said the dispersal of a peaceful demonstration that don’t pose any threat to the public order just because it’s after sunset is not necessary in a democratic society.
“When the significance of the right to organize assemblies are taken into account, imposing a categorical ban on these after sunset may bear the result of limiting the public more than necessary,” the Constitutional Court said.
The cancelation of the article that stipulates “dispersal before sunset” will come into effect nine months after it’s published in the Official Gazette.
On the issue of “public roads,” the top court said “the risk of traffic flow getting disrupted doesn’t justify closing public roads to demonstrations completely.”
“It’s inevitable for the assemblies and demonstrations to not make the daily lives of the others difficult to a certain extent,” it said.