Constitutional Court of the Republic of Turkey Celebrates its 56th Anniversary

President of the Constitutional Court Mr. Zühtü Arslan, pointing out the importance of the system of individual application to the Constitutional Court, has stated that “Thanks to this mechanism, especially during the emergency period in the aftermath of the July 15th, more than 100.000 applications have been brought before the Constitutional Court, either concluded or still pending, without resorting to the Strasbourg Court.” 

The Constitutional Court held a ceremony in the Grand Hall on the occasion of celebrations of its 56th Anniversary.

Among those who attended the ceremony were President of the Turkish Republic Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Mr. İsmail Kahraman, Chairperson of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Chief of General Staff, Full General Mr. Hulusi Akar, Deputy Prime Ministers Mr. Bekir Bozdağ and Mr. Fikri Işık, Minister of Justice Mr. Abdulhamit Gül, President of the Court of Cassation Mr. İsmail Rüştü Cirit, President of the Council of State Mrs. Zerrin Güngör, Former Speakers of the Turkish Parliamentary Mr. Bülent Arınç and Mr. Cemil Çiçek, President of the Supreme Election Council Mr. Sadi Güven, Chief Ombudsman Mr. Şeref Malkoç, Acting President of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors Mr. Mehmet Yılmaz, Chairman of the Union of Turkish Bar Association Mr. Metin Feyzioğlu and judicial members as well as President of the Venice Commission Mr. Gianni Buquicchio and presidents/justices of constitutional courts of twenty countries. 

Five years of individual application was presented through the introductory film prepared on the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the Constitutional Court.

President of the Turkish Constitutional Court Mr. Arslan, in his opening speech, stated that the theme of this year’s symposium was determined as the evaluation of the five years of the individual application and that they would discuss the individual application mechanism in Turkey thoroughly and make a stock taking of the five years’ experience.

President Mr. Arslan, stating that he wanted to address to the binding effect and execution of the Constitutional Court’s violation judgments, noted that the Constitutional Court had interpreted Article 153 of the Constitution in one of its judgments.

Mr. Arslan, stressing that the Court once again determined that pursuant to this Article, the judgments of the Constitutional Court shall be binding on the legislative, executive and judicial bodies, administrative authorities, and natural and legal persons, has stated that “The most important issue here is that our Constitutional Court has set forth the difference of this provision from Article 138 thereof that generally provides the binding effect of the court judgments. Article 153, as distinct from Article 138, states that in addition to the legislative and executive bodies and administrative authorities, the judgments of the Constitutional Courts are binding on “judicial authorities” as well. This is also a natural consequence of Article 11 of the Constitution.”

“Non-execution of the Constitutional Court Judgments cannot be Imagined”

President Mr. Arslan, pointing out that the principle of binding effect and supremacy of the Constitution is also enshrined in Article 11 of the Constitution, has stated that “In the light of these assessments and in the presence of explicit constitutional provisions, non-execution of the Constitutional Court judgments cannot be imagined. Indeed, the individual application mechanism can be considered as an effective remedy only if a found violation and its consequences are redressed.”

Mr. Arslan has also underlined that the Constitutional Court takes into consideration the European Convention on Human Rights and its binding interpretation by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) when reviewing whether the constitutional rights and freedoms have been violated or not.

“Taking into Consideration the ECHR Judgments in the Individual Application is a Practical Requirement”

Indicating that this is not merely a preference but rather a constitutional requirement, Mr. President has stated that “Apart from these constitutional requirements, this also arises as a requirement in practical terms. Because the Constitution-maker has introduced this mechanism exactly for reducing the number of applications to be lodged with the ECHR and the number of violations. Therefore, taking into consideration the case-law of the ECHR is indispensable for the Constitutional Court. As a matter of fact, the Constitution-maker has introduced the individual application mechanism to reduce the number of applications [to be lodged with the Strasbourg Court] and resolve the matters by means of the domestic law .We can say that the implementation of this remedy over five years demonstrates that this aim has been achieved. Thanks to this mechanism, especially during the emergency period in the aftermath of the July 15th, more than 100.000 applications have been brought before the Constitutional Court, either concluded or still pending, without resorting to the Strasbourg Court.”

Mr. Arslan has stated that the individual application has made and continued making a significant contribution to the development of the democratic state of law in Turkey by enabling the redress of violations suffered by individuals without applying to an international court.

Pointing out that all these demonstrate that the individual application is a great achievement for Turkey with respect to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, Mr. Arslan has stated that “I have no doubt that the future generations will be grateful to those who introduced this mechanism into the constitutional system in 2010 and to those who contributed to its successful implementation.”

Mr. Arslan, stressing that the relation of judiciary with legislature and executive, which form the sphere of politics, is of vital importance, has expressed that the establishment of the relation between judiciary and politics on a sound basis and its maintenance depend on ensuring judicial independence and impartiality, on one hand, and judicial abstention from substantive review and activism by observing the constitutional and legal boundaries, on the other.

86% of the Individual Applications Lodged so far have been Adjudicated by the Court during the State of Emergency”

President Mr. Arslan, recalling that the number of individual applications to the Constitutional Court had exceeded 100.000 by this time last year, has stated that “Following the July 15th, the Court has demonstrated a substantial effort and has concluded approximately 103.000 individual applications out of 120.000 in total. Thus, 86% of the individual applications lodged so far have been adjudicated by the Court during the state of emergency. There are currently 39.000 pending individual applications before the Court, and approximately 9.000 of them concern the measures taken under the state of emergency.”

Pointing out that a major part of the violation judgments rendered by the Constitutional Court relates to the right to a fair trial, Mr. Arslan has stated that in order for the individual application to be effective in the long term, the judicial system must operate effectively.

Reiterating that despite all difficulties and traumas that occurred in the aftermath of the coup attempt of the July 15th, 2016, the functioning of the judicial system, and in particular the functioning of the individual application mechanism, is valuable in itself, President Mr. Arslan has stated that “Certainly, as is also the case with other institutions, erroneous judgments may be rendered in the judiciary. However, such mistakes will be corrected within the judicial system, and indeed, they are being corrected.”

An Effective Judicial System is based on Three Basic Pillars: Mind, Morals and Justice

President Mr. Arslan, pointing out that an ideal judicial system must be based on three basic pillars, has stated that “An effective judicial system is based on three basic pillars: mind, morals and justice. Indeed, neither a judiciary nor a civilization can be envisaged without these notions.”

Symposium Held on the occasion of the 56th Anniversary of the Constitutional Court

Following the opening ceremony, the “Symposium on the Evaluation of the Five Years of Individual Application” commenced in the afternoon. Two sessions with the theme on “Effects of the Individual Application Judgments on the Interpretation of the Constitution” and “Effects of the Individual Application Judgments on the Judicial System” were conducted during the symposium.

Gala Dinner at the Presidential Complex

The Gala Dinner held on the occasion of the 56th Anniversary was organized at the Presidential Complex and honoured by President of the Republic Mr. Erdoğan and Prime Minister Mr. Yıldırım, as well.
Mr. Erdoğan delivered a speech during the gala dinner.

Events of the 56th Anniversary are Going On

The events held on the occasion of the 56th Anniversary of the Constitutional Court continued also on Thursday, 26th April.

Within the scope of these events, sessions on the “Effects of the judgments of the Constitutional Court on the judgments of the ECHR” and “General Evaluation and Statistics on the individual application judgments” were held during the second day of the “Symposium on the Evaluation of the Five Years of Individual Application”.

 

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