Turkey again takes top spot in ECHR violations in 2011

Turkey again takes top spot in ECHR violations in 2011

(Photo: Reuters)

January 27, 2012, Friday/ 23:59:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

Turkey was the country with the highest number of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 2011, the third year in a row.

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) head Nicolas Bratza said at a press briefing on Thursday that Turkey topped the list of countries that violated the ECHR with 159 cases. Russia followed Turkey with 121 cases and Ukraine with 105. According to Bratza, Greece (69), Romania (58) and Poland (54) had all violated at least one article of the convention.

Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland recently said during a meeting that there are currently 16,000 ongoing cases against Turkey, making it the country against which the second-highest number of cases have been filed.

The Turkish government claims it has made substantial progress in improving the human rights situation in the country. Justice Minister Sedat Ergin recently said in a conference that a series of reforms had been adopted to prevent human rights violations in the past few years, adding that similar legal amendments will continue to improve the situation.

The most important breakthrough in judicial reform was achieved last year with a landslide approval in a public referendum of amending a number of constitutional articles -- many related to judicial changes. For the first time, it introduced the individual right to petition the Constitutional Court for alleged violations of fundamental human rights. It also established the Ombudsman Office for grievances regarding the misconduct of government employees and agencies.

In its 2010 report, the Strasbourg-based court again listed Turkey as the country most often found to be in violation of the convention. The highest number of judgments finding at least one violation of the ECHR concern cases from Turkey (228), followed by Russia (204), Romania (135), Ukraine (107) and Poland (87). In 2009, Turkey also topped the list in terms of violations of ECHR articles.

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 to apply individually to the ECtHR and in 1990 recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. However, Turkey has still not ratified some of the protocols of the convention despite having signed them.

Turkey could be encouraged to flout rulings of ECtHR

Countries such as Russia and Turkey could be encouraged to flout the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) if British Prime Minister David Cameron succeeds in his aim of reforming of the institution, it was claimed by The Independent on Thursday.

Cameron, whose government has been a vocal critic of some of the court's recent decisions in British cases, on Wednesday called for a reform of the court. Cameron stated that he wants decisions by the court to become accepted as precedents to prevent repetitive cases being brought; more cases to be dealt with domestically; and for the implementation of systemic changes arising from some rulings to be improved to stop the court dealing with the same type of cases.

If Cameron succeeds in his calls for a reform, Turkey –which received highest number of ECtHR rulings against it in 2011, the third year in a row – will be encouraged to stand against the rulings of the ECtHR.

“This is the right moment for reform -- reforms that are practical, sensible and that enhance the reputation of the court. New rules could enable it to focus more efficiently and transparently on the most important cases,” said Cameron.

Last week, the ECtHR angered Britain by ruling it could not deport a Jordanian cleric, once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, to Jordan to face terrorism charges. Even though they accepted that Britain and Jordan had agreed on a deal to uphold the cleric Abu Qatada's human rights, the judges said he would not receive a fair trial because evidence against him might have been obtained under torture.

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