The Curious Case of Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code: Insulting the Turkish President

Judgments by the Strasbourg Court are binding on Turkey and furthermore are the primary source for interpreting the European Convention of Human Rights, a treaty to which Turkey is party and which, according to Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution, prevails over national laws such as Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code on insulting the President, in the event of conflict. ECtHR jurisprudence clearly indicates such a conflict between Article 299 and the Convention. But are Turkish courts aware of this?

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The ECtHR and Post-coup Turkey: Losing Ground or Losing Credibility?

Since Turkey’s coup attempt in July 2016, human rights violations have been abundant. With a broken Turkish justice system, the ECtHR has received over 33,000 applications from the country, with 30 to 40 more incoming each week. Shockingly, more than 90% of these applications have been dismissed. This is often on dubious grounds, causing experts and Turkish citizens alike to condemn its response.

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The Tide is Turning: Elections in Turkey

Will the elections tomorrow change the course of the country in an equally abrupt and infinitely more dramatic manner? Is the seemingly limitless power of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party) about to crumble? It’s too early to say. But it is definitely possible.

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“Academics for Peace“ and their Freedom of Expression

The ‘Academics for Peace Petition’, published in January 2016, was signed by around two thousand academics from both Turkey and from abroad. The petition raised concerns, using strong language, about the conduct of Turkish security forces in their counter-terrorism operations carried out in response to violent actions by the PKK terrorist group and their supporters  in south-east Turkey in the summer of 2015. One signatory,  Füsun Üstel, professor of political science, was found guilty of committing the crime of terrorist propaganda under Article 7(2) of the Turkish Counter Terrorism Law and now faces fifteen months of imprisonment. The constitutional protection of Üstel’s freedom of expression has not been respected by the court in its judicial reasoning. 

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The State of Emergency, Non-Refoulement and the Turkish Constitutional Court

There is almost not a day that passes without terrorism featuring in the Turkish media, with national terrorism and the fight against terrorism being the subject of controversy both nationally and internationally. The broad definition of terrorism under Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism Law of 1991, the measure of discretion of the competent authorities in the modality of […]

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A Love Letter from Strasbourg to the Turkish Constitutional Court

We can all breathe a sigh of relief: Turkey’s constitutional complaint mechanism is an effective domestic remedy. Said the European Court of Human Rights in its March 20th rulings, speaking for the first time on the issue of prolonged pre-trial detentions since the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. These judgments reflect the ECtHR’s continuing preoccupation with its docket crisis despite the rapid consolidation of authoritarian rule in Turkey.

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Think Twice before Speaking of Constitutional Review in Turkey

German journalist Deniz Yücel has been freed from the Turkish prison he was held captive for a year. That the partial undoing of an unjust judicial decision had nothing to do with human rights, and everything to do with “diplomacy” – as Gabriel admitted – became all the more evident a few hours later. While one court in Istanbul released Yücel, another sentenced seven Turkish journalists to aggravated life in prison on charges of involvement in the failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016. In addition to being the first conviction of journalists in relation to the putsch attempt, the ruling is also remarkable due to its implications for Turkey’s constitutional regime.

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Is the Turkish Constitutional Complaint System on the Verge of a Crisis?

Last week, the Turkish Constitutional Court delivered two decisions on the constitutional complaints of two journalists, finding their detention to be unconstitutional. The Courts of Assize declared the decisions as void because of “usurpation of competence” and refused to enact them. A constitutional crisis seems to be deepening – at least in the short term.

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Will Legalism be the End of Constitutionalism in Turkey?

On 11 January 2018, Turkish constitutionalism entered a new phase of decay. This phase was not triggered by criticism of its judgments by the government nor by the retreat of constitutional protections by the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) nor by constitutional court packing as seen in Hungary or Poland. Instead, first instance courts became the newest actors to challenge the authority of the country’s constitution and how it is interpreted by the TCC. The new rebels against Turkish constitutionalism are ordinary judges.

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Taking the EU-Turkey Deal to Court?

The EU-Turkey deal on the return of refugees is one of the most controversial policy steps taken by the EU in recent years. The EU General Court chose to sidestep the difficult legal questions raised by the deal by dismissing these cases, ruling it had no jurisdiction to review the deal on the ground that the Statement was not an act of Union institutions, but that of Member States. Will the CJEU use this opportunity to set the record straight by establishing who had the competence to conclude the EU-Turkey deal?

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