World Bulletin/News Desk
Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç has said the top court has made the necessary preparations to start accepting individual petitions for complaints of human rights violations.
He emphasized that Turkey's aim is to achieve full integration with universal values in its judicial system with the introduction of the individual right to petition the top court for the violation of fundamental human rights.
The Constitutional Court will start accepting petitions from individual plaintiffs starting on Monday as part of changes made to the constitution after a referendum held on Sept. 12, 2010. It was expected that the number of cases against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will drop significantly.
Kılıç said complaints over the length of trials or pre-detention period may be brought to the Constitutional Court after remedies sought at the lower and appellate court had been exhausted.
“Should an application filed for terminating pre-detention period be rejected, too, by a higher court after a court of first instance, this shall be the final ruling and an individual application to our court shall be allowed. If accepted, the Constitutional Court will make a decision on application,” he explained.
Highlighting that rights and liberties will be viewed from a broader window, President Kılıç stated that he hoped the bad track record of Turkey in the ECtHR will improve with the exercise of a personal appeal to the top court.
“From now on, we expect a decrease in the number of ECtHR applications as we will switch to a broader understanding of rights and freedoms. At the Constitutional Court, we prefer a broader window in case our Constitution contradicts with the European Convention on Human Rights [ECHR],” he explained.
The ECHR, drafted in 1950, places Turkey under the jurisdiction of the ECtHR. In 1987, Turkey accepted the right of individuals to file applications with the ECtHR and in 1990 recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. The convention is part of the Turkish Constitution, according to revised Article 90 of the Constitution. But in practice this did not limit the surge in the numbers of cases in Strasbourg.
Kılıç said judges ought to hold international law above national law when there is a conflict, but this was rarely exercised in the past. “We will review these cases if they were brought to our attention from now on,” he said.
Acknowledging they have been working on preparations at a rapid pace since the recognition of the right to individual application with the 2010 referendum, Kılıç told reporters that they have resolved staff and physical shortcomings. He added that the National Judicial Network Communications System (UYAP) has been upgraded to accommodate online applications.
Two chambers have been set up under the Constitutional Court for the review of individual applications and the number of rapporteurs was raised to 50, in compliance with advice from the ECtHR. The court will add 10 more rapporteurs to its staff, Kılıç revealed. Applications will be reviewed by two-person commissions in terms of “eligibility.”