Press Release No: Individual Application 12/18
04.05.2018

PRESS RELEASE CONCERNING THE JUDGMENT FINDING A VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO RESPECT FOR PRIVATE AND FAMILY LIFE DUE TO DISPOSAL OF UNTREATED SEWAGE TO A STREAM

On 1 February 2018, the Plenary of the Constitutional Court found a violation of the right to respect for private and family life safeguarded by Article 20 of the Constitution, in the individual application lodged by Binali Özkaradeniz and others (no. 2014/4686).

The Facts

The applicants are residing in a village located near a stream in the Susuz district of Kars.

The Kars Governor’s Officer carried out an inspection over the sewage system of the district municipality and consequently ascertained that sewage was disposed to the stream without being subject to any treatment.

Thereafter, the district municipality taking into consideration the relevant legislation prepared a “work termination plan” and submitted it to the Governor’s Office. However, it is noted in the “Environmental Status Report” issued afterwards by the Provincial Directorate of Environment and Urbanization that no waste water treatment facility was constructed in the region.

Alleging that they were sustaining damage as a result thereof, the applicants brought several actions for compensation against the municipality. However, the administrative court dismissed the actions. The applicants’ appellate requests against the administrative court’s decision were dismissed by the Council of State.

The Applicants’ Allegations

The applicants maintained that their constitutional rights had been breached due to disposal, by the municipality, of untreated sewage to the stream passing by near their village.

The Constitutional Court’s Assessment

In brief, the Constitutional Court made the following assessments:

As required by the right to respect for private and family life safeguarded by Article 20 of the Constitution, the public authorities are to prevent disposal of raw sewage to stream which would adversely affect health. In this respect, it is at the discretion of the public authorities to decide on the measures to be taken. However, it is compulsory to implement the prescribed measures in a reasonable and appropriate manner in order not to cause right violations.

It was ascertained by both the Governor’s Office and the inferior courts that disposal, by the municipality, of untreated sewage to the stream passing by near the applicants’ village had led to water contamination and that certain measures were to be taken for prevention of such contamination. This constituted an interference with the applicants’ right to private and family life.

Considering the relevant legislation, the district municipality prepared “a work termination plan” with regard to the water treatment facility and submitted it to the Governor’s Office. However, according to the “Environmental Status Report” issued by the relevant administration, this facility was not put into operation although a certain period of time had elapsed.    

In the reasoning of the decisions dismissing the action of the applicants, the inferior courts mainly took into consideration the initiatives for construction of a treatment facility. Regard being had to the fact that, pending the applicants’ action for compensation, the relevant municipality failed to eliminate environmental disturbance despite the expiry of the period prescribed in the work termination plan, future construction of the treatment facility cannot be considered sufficient for redress of the non-pecuniary damage that has been already sustained and still being sustained by the applicants.

For these reasons, the Constitutional Court found a violation of the right to respect for private and family life safeguarded by Article 20 of the Constitution. 

This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.

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