Press Release No: Individual Application 29/18
19.07.2018

PRESS RELEASE CONCERNING THE DECISION FINDING INADMISSIBLE THE ALLEGED VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE DUE TO OCCUPATIONAL ACCIDENT

On 11 June 2018, the First Section of the Constitutional Court declared inadmissible the individual application lodged by Barış Sarıtaş and others (no. 2015/161) for non-exhaustion of legal remedies.

The Facts

Two relatives of the applicants had been working in a construction site, and they lost their lives, together with eight other workers, in the elevator accident at the work place.   

The expert report obtained within the scope of the investigation conducted by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office stated that the executives and technical staff of the company which rented out, installed, and maintained the facade elevator and administrative and technical staff of the project partnership company which was the principle employer and renter of the elevator were primarily negligent in the accident. The report indicated that the occupational health and safety company was secondarily negligent.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a decision of non-prosecution in respect of the suspects in the capacity of principle employer. The applicants2 objection to this decision was rejected by the Magistrate Judge’s Office.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office charged twenty-five persons, including the executives and staff of the elevator company and the occupational health and safety company for recklessly causing deaths of more than one person.

Upon the proceedings, the Assize Court acquitted some of the accused and imposed judicial fine on some others. The appellate review of the case is still pending before the district court.

The Applicants’ Allegations

The applicants claimed that the right to life was violated on the ground that an effective criminal investigation was not conducted into the elevator accident in which ten workers had lost their lives.

The Constitutional Court’s Assessment

Considering together Article 17 of the Constitution, safeguarding the right to life, and Article 5 of the Constitution, reading the fundamental aims and duties of the State, in cases of death an effective criminal investigation capable of identifying those responsible and, if necessary, punishing them must be conducted.

However, such investigations must not be limited to the determination of whether a particular person is responsible or not. It must be capable of revealing all aspects of the incident.

Due to the secondary nature of the individual application remedy, the ordinary legal remedies must be exhausted in order for an individual application to be lodged with the Constitutional Court.

In the present case, it is understood that the criminal proceedings against twenty-five persons for their alleged responsibility in the accident and resulting deaths are still continuing. Although the applicants alleged that the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not conduct a sufficient or effective investigation into the accident, there is no indication that the ongoing proceedings are not capable to find out the facts and to identify and punish those responsible.

Although the applicants also alleged that the investigation was not effective as a decision of non-prosecution was issued for some suspects, it is always possible during the ongoing proceedings to identify those having responsibility in the accident and to file a criminal case against them.

In the event that the judicial proceedings reveal the responsibilities of persons who were not charged in the case, there is no obstacle to file a criminal case against them. 

Regard being had to the ongoing proceedings, the available legal remedies cannot be said to have been exhausted prior resorting to the individual application.

Consequently, the Constitutional Court declared the present application inadmissible for non-exhaustion of legal remedies.

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

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Turkey © 2019