Justice Minister Bozdağ: Significant drop in Turkish cases at ECtHR
by Emre Özüm
ANKARAFeb 18, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Emre Özüm
Feb 18, 2016 12:00 am
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said during Parliament's Planning and Budget meeting on Monday that the number of detrimental cases filed at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against Turkey in the last four years have dropped significantly. The minister also mentioned that the number of human rights' violations for Turkey that have been penalized by the ECtHR have decreased. In further remarks, Bozdağ discussed the new court system within the regional court of justices, which will be put into action with new reforms, including the law regarding political parties and the electorate, in order to ensure the fairness of conducted hearings.
During the Planning and Budget Commission meeting, the minister pointed out that, regarding the ECtHR, the number of applications submitted regarding Turkish violations has dropped nearly 50 percent in the past three years; namely, from 16,876 cases to 8,450. He also pointed to data from previous years – 2012 and 2015 – when the number of decisions handed down for human rights' violations by the ECtHR decreased from 117 to 79, respectively.
The minister emphasized that improvement efforts within the judicial branch of the government have been ongoing since 2002, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) first took office, pointing to the party's success in extending the rights and freedoms of Turkish citizens. On the same note, he also emphasized the importance of providing people with the necessary resources to gain information about these rights. Bozdağ said that "Common judicial mistakes have been corrected in this manner," pointing to substantial reforms and the rights of individual applications to constitutional courts, the establishment of the ombudsman institution, the establishment of a compensation commission, the right to object to supreme military council decisions and the right to a constitutional governing state.
Bozdag pointed out the importance of the new court system; namely, the regional court of justices, which will be put into action under the new reforms. He said, "We believe that the regional court of justices will bring significant changes to the Turkish judicial system. With this new system, 89 percent of civil courts, 91 percent of criminal courts and 80 percent of administrative courts will reach a collective conclusion with the regional court of justices system. The regional court of justice is not a supreme court but a kind of second-degree court. It will have the capability to analyze all kinds of research; ranging from the evaluation of suspects, the questioning of witnesses and obtaining third-party advice, allowing the court system to grant decisions like first-degree courts. This will not only provide a faster judicial system but also create a secondary judgement opportunity for people, providing a more fair justice system for Turkish citizens."
While Bozdağ underlined the importance of neutrality in a judiciary system for gaining the trust of all citizens, he said, "The purposes of all progress we have made during our political term, is to provide a feature within the judicial system. There is no peace and security in a society where the rights and justice of its people are unprotected. In communal residences, peace and security can only be provided with an effective judicial system." He also stated that several improvements could be made within the content of these reforms; even though there are still some areas that need to be revised. Meanwhile, the minister has indicated that work needs to be done on the mutual legal assistance law, the law regarding political parties and the electoral law, to provide fair hearings. Additionally, he also mentioned the increase in the number of justices in the court system. For instance, the number of judges has increased from 9,349 to 14, 714 and the number of auxiliary staff members has risen to 58,324 from 26,274 since 2002. Furthermore, he also pointed to the increase in the number of judicial courts - from 3,581 to 6,054 - during this period, which provides a swifter judicial process.