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Media Watch 2007

28 February 2007
Source: Cyprus News Agency
Author:
Comment: The following is a report of the Cyprus News Agency of Nicosia of 28 February 2007.
ZAMAN – Head of the Human Rights Association: The European Court of Human Rights has always protected Turkey in its decisions
"Turkish English language TODAYS ZAMAN newspaper reports the following: “Turkey has paid more than 45 million euros in compensation since the European Court of Human Rights ruled against it in a number of cases, most of which involve a violation of property rights, according to Justice Ministry

In a high-profile case, Turkey was ordered to pay more than 1 million euros to Greek Cypriot applicant Titina Loizidou for blocking her access to her property in northern Cyprus. There are 2,250 similar cases pending.

In 2004, out of a total of 44,128 applications filed at the European court, 3,930 were against Turkey. While Turkey was ranked third following Russia and Poland with respect to applications filed against them in 2004, it moved to the second place after Italy as of the end of 2006. Turkey became a party to the European Convention on Human Rights in 1954 and allowed its citizens to seek justice at the European court in 1987. Although the first personal application against Turkey was filed as late as in 1993, Turkey has become the highest compensation paying country over the 14 years since then.

Following the first application from Turkish citizens in 1993, the European court delivered some 1,310 judgments; three in 1995, five in 1996, eight in 1997, 18 in 1998, 19 in 1999, 39 in 2000, 218 in 2001, 99 in 2002, 123 in 2003, 171 in 2004, 290 in 2005 and 317 in 2006.

According to the Justice Ministry data, only 26 judgments of the court were in favor of Turkey. Some 513 cases ended in friendly settlements between applicants and Turkey. The court has ruled that 198 applications were inadmissible during this period. The court has dropped another 16 applications. Turkey has paid 4.6 million French francs in friendly settlement cases. Another 4.7 million francs were paid to cover court costs.

Complaints against Turkey were mostly on political matters in the past, with most of the complaints relating to right to life, freedom of expression, prohibition of torture, right to liberty and security. In recent years, the nature of the complaints has changed dramatically, as recent applications pertain mostly to property rights. Some 70 percent of the applications filed after 2000 related to delays in the payment after nationalization of private property, violation of property rights and delays in court proceedings. Particularly after Loizidou secured more than €1 million as compensation from Turkey, the applications from the Greek Cypriot citizens soared to 2,250.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the compensation paid in connection with 567 European Court of Human Rights judgments as of September 2005 amounted to €33 million. The Foreign Ministry data also shows that Turkey would pay an additional YTL 14 million as compensation in 2006.

The European court learned from Turkey
Yusuf Alatas, who heads the Human Rights Association, said Turkey was a unique case for the European court: "Turkey has among the three highest number of applications filed against them at the European Court of Human Rights. We are yet to be the first. Nevertheless, the applications from Turkey differ in content from applications from other countries. Though in high numbers, the applications from other countries relate mostly to property rights or length of proceedings. On the other hand, the applications against Turkey pertain mostly to cases of murder by unknown assailants, evacuation of villages, torture and suicide. Virtually no application is made from Europe in connection with such cases. If Turkey were not a member, the European court would never have to deal with such applications. In this respect, the court learned a lot from Turkey," he said.
"For the European Court of Human Rights, Turkey is a unique category. Some groups in Turkey claim that the European Court of Human Rights issue political judgments in connection with Turkey. But for me, the court has always protected Turkey in its decisions, only delivering judgments against it when it is impossible to keep it by the book. And when it ruled against Turkey, it did not follow European standards. If it did, the compensation paid by Turkey might amount to billions of euros. We cannot say that Turkey's performance with respect to human rights is improving."”

Here is the breakdown of the judgments issued by the European Court of Human Rights on Turkey:

Right to life -- deprivation of life.............................50
Lack of effective investigation................................89
Prohibition of torture.................................................9
Inhuman or degrading treatment............................91
Lack of effective investigation..................................8
Prohibition of slavery / forced labor..........................0
Right to liberty and security..................................181
Right to a fair trial.................................................354
Length of proceedings..........................................127
No punishment without law......................................4
Right to respect for private and family life...............28
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion...........1
Freedom of expression.........................................123
Freedom of assembly and association...................18
Right to marry...........................................................0
Right to an effective remedy.................................143
Prohibition of discrimination......................................2
Protection of property...........................................353
Right to education....................................................2
Right to free elections..............................................1
Right not to be tried or punished twice....................0
Other articles of the Convention............................26
Number of judgments........................................1310”"