PACE's sub-committee on legal affairs and human rights announced on Monday that it recommends Karakaş, deputy dean of the İstanbul-based Galatasaray University's law faculty, to represent Turkey in the European court. The final vote for appointing the new judge to represent Turkey will be held by the PACE General Assembly. The new judge will replace outgoing judge Rıza Türmen and serve in Strasbourg for six years.
Karakaş, whose academic studies specialize in human rights law and European law, is known for her views on individual liberties. She will be the second judge at the European court since 1998, when the top court was founded.
Karakaş is a firm believer in the European Human Rights Law and says that all "domestic law should be regulated according to this." She told Today's Zaman in a phone interview on Monday that the cases the court usually deals with from Turkey concern freedom of expression, fair trial and property rights. Karakaş said Turkey needs to readjust its domestic law in these problem areas that are frequently referred to the European court. Expressing her opinion that the Strasbourg judges are representatives of European legislation on human rights, Karakaş said that member countries have to abide by the common law that is binding for all member nations. "Turkey had better get used to that, too," she said.
Karakaş will take office on May 1, 2008.
Election process for the European court
Karakaş was elected among three candidates proposed by the Turkish government. On Karakaş's election, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who heads the Turkish delegation to PACE, said the sub-committee on legal affairs had nominated Karakaş, but Turkey saw all three judges equally. "Turkey proposed three candidates to the European court. Ankara has pressured neither the Turkish delegation at the European Council nor lobbied at the European court to support a particular one of the three candidates." Noting that the vote deciding the next Turkish judge will be held today, Çavuşoğlu added, "Everybody will vote for the candidate of their own choice."
In December of last year PACE initiated the procedure for the election of 20 judges to replace those whose term would expire by the end of October 2007. Later, PACE extended the period to February 2008 for technical reasons. Türmen, the Turkish judge at the European court, was re-elected to the court in 2001 for six years after his first election in 1998. In late November the Turkish government drew up an alternative list of nominees for judicial posts at the European court, almost two months after the rejection of the first list by PACE on grounds that there were major professional disparities between the proposed candidates.
The names on the new list included Professor Ruşen Ergeç of the Free University in Brussels, whose name was also on the first list; Professor Karakaş, deputy dean of İstanbul-based Galatasaray University's law faculty; and Associate Professor Ali Ulusoy, deputy dean of Ankara University's law faculty.
Following interviews held with the three Turkish candidates during a session last month in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, a sub-committee of PACE, had asserted that all three "have the necessary knowledge and qualifications" for the post, the Anatolia news agency reported yesterday, noting that the committee was expected to recommend one of the three names for election ahead of the vote at PACE scheduled for Tuesday.