18 Mai 2021

A Ghost that Haunts European Democracies

In Turkey, Spain and Poland, lèse-majesté laws are weaponised against opposition: The conviction and imprisonment of Marxist rapper Pablo Hasél sparked mass protests across Spain, and the 20-year-old Wiktoria K. who shouted “f*** Duda” during last year’s demonstrations and received a guilty verdict on grounds of “insulting the President” in March 2021. The very existence of lèse-majesté laws poses a threat to the right to dissent. It is a vital democratic duty to cast such laws into the dustbin of history. Continue reading >>
21 April 2021

How Many Times Can the ECtHR Turn its Head

In the ruling Ahmet Hüsrev Altan v. Turkey of 13 April, the European Court of Human Rights did not find an ulterior motive in the prolonged pre-trial detention of a journalist in Turkey. The Court also refused to find “pattern and tendency” in the treatment of civil society and independent journalism in Turkey. This approach is not limited to Article 18 case law: The Court’s entire jurisprudence on Turkey lacks systematic analysis. Continue reading >>
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16 März 2021
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Year One: Reflections on Turkey’s Legal Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ever since the first officially reported COVID-19 case in the country in March in 2020, Turkey, like most of the world, has taken measures to control the pandemic. The measures taken by Turkey included limitations on freedom of movement, closing schools and moving to online teaching at schools as and universities, restrictions on business opening hours, cessation of prison and detention visits, prohibition of resignation for healthcare staff, and, more stringently, the introduction of curfews. Continue reading >>
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24 Dezember 2020

The Whole Is More than the Sum of its Parts

The long-awaited Demirtaş v. Turkey (No 2) Grand Chamber judgment has finally been delivered, twenty two months after referral and sixteen months since the 18 September 2019 hearing.  The judgment, arguably the most important from the Grand Chamber in 2020, is highly significant for both political and jurisprudential reasons. Politically, the case concerns the ongoing deprivation of liberty of Selahattin Demirtaş – the former leader of the left-wing, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second-largest opposition party in Turkey. Continue reading >>
18 November 2020

“Is the Turkish Central Bank Independent?” as an Uninteresting Question

Yes, the Turkish Central Bank’s independence has been eroded in recent years. Yes, from 2016 until now, the Bank has had four different presidents (or governors, as they are called), which is unusual by all accounts. No, the Bank is therefore probably not independent — or as independent — as its Western counterparts. I do not find these somewhat trite but true statements about the Bank’s independence (or the lack thereof) terribly interesting. Not that they are unimportant, but because I think the erosion of the Bank’s independence is illustrative of deeper and far more curious attributes of competitive authoritarian regimes and how they sustain themselves (or fail at doing that). Continue reading >>
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20 Oktober 2020

Recognizing Turkey’s Anti-Rule of Law System

On October 13, a criminal court of first instance defied the authority of the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC). A similar challenge to the TCC’s authority by a first instance court had occurred over two years ago. In present-day Turkey, however, it is wrong to see such fundamental violations of the rule of law as an unfortunate exception to an abstractly conceived system of rules. Rather, they should be considered as the manifestation of a well-functioning anti-rule of law system. Continue reading >>
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19 Oktober 2020

In (Partial) Praise and Defense of Justice Engin Yildirim

The Turkish Constitutional Court is yet again front and center in Turkish politics – and yet again because a first instance criminal court defied its ruling. What is new this time is that a justice of the Court, Engin Yildirim, chimed in, cleverly critiquing the defiant first instance criminal court – a move from an otherwise reticent institution that surprised lawyers, pundits, and politicians alike. Continue reading >>
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Diminishing Authority

The Turkish Constitutional Court ruled on 17 September 2020 that the right to be elected and right to personal liberty of Enis Berberoğlu, an opposition MP, have been violated. As a remedy to this violation, the TCC ordered the Istanbul 14th Criminal Court of First Instance to start a re-trial in order to eliminate the consequences of these violations. Yet, the Court of First Instance did not implement this decision. The unfolding of these events creates political and legal controversy and harms the – already vulnerable – credibility and legitimacy of the TCC. Continue reading >>
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30 September 2020

What Happened at the Greece-Turkey Border in early 2020?

Reports have documented allegations about those in need of international protection being physically prevented from entering into Greece, being subjected to severe forms of mistreatment and deprivation of their liberty, property as well as being collectively expelled from the country without having the opportunity to apply for asylum. Thus, it could be argued there are violations of the right to seek and enjoy asylum, right to life, prohibition of torture, right to liberty and security and right to an effective remedy. Yet this blog will only focus on the most relevant rights/issues. Continue reading >>
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28 September 2020

Continuing Violation

Since the failed coup attempt in 2016, lawyers, judges and prosecutors have persistently been subject to illegal surveillance and mass arrests. The latest such arrest of 50 lawyers took place on September 11th, 2020, during police raids in Ankara in the dawn. Arrests of lawyers have become the new normal although legal professionals should enjoy strong protections by law. Turkey’s Court of Cassation, however, has deprived these guarantees of any practical effectiveness by unlawfully expanding the meaning of in flagrante delicto. Continue reading >>
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09 September 2020

Why Robert Spano should resign as President of the ECtHR

On 3-5 September 2020, the ECtHR’s new president Robert Spano paid an official visit to Turkey. Spano’s visit is scandalous for multiple reasons and has caused serious damage to the reputation of the ECtHR that warrants his resignation. Continue reading >>

Violation of Freedoms and Judges in Turkey

Sometimes the voice of the president, who cannot be silenced, is one of the few that resound freely to recall the principles and values that are assumed to be typical of Europe. Holding a lecture at one of the Istanbul universities that offered him an honorary degree, the President of the European Court Robert Spano began by saying that he accepted that honour not only because it was a protocol moment, never refused in any member state of the Council of Europe, but also because the ceremony gave him the opportunity to underline the importance of academic freedom and freedom of expression in a democracy governed by the rule of law. Continue reading >>
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The Symbolic Downfall of the ECtHR in Turkish Public Opinion

The European Court of Human Rights was considered to be very important in Turkey, mostly because it was perceived as the last resort for the frequent injustices within that State. Continue reading >>
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30 Juli 2020
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Stay Away from Using your Constitutional Rights

The Academics for Peace Petition is a petition signed by over 2,200 academics in and outside Turkey in 2016. It became, however, more than a simple petition. This collection of signatures put in motion mass criminal proceedings, job dismissals and many other forms of administrative and social sanctions against hundreds of academics in Turkey. This reaction is unprecedented in terms of scale and effects in contemporary times. Continue reading >>
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17 Juli 2020

Attacking the Bar Associations

In the midst of pandemic, thousands of attorneys-at-law in Turkey have spent days and nights for almost two weeks to protest a bill that prescribes amendments in the Advocacy Law. The bill would reduce the representation of (generally progressive) lawyers from Turkey’s big cities in the national Union of Turkish Bar Associations and furthermore allows setting up new bar associations. It is feared that this might be used to weaken the existing strong bar associations that have repeatedly criticized the government in the past on matters concerning human rights and the protection of the rule of law. Continue reading >>
10 März 2020

A March in the Night

The annual Feminist Night March in Istanbul has been the most cheerful, vivid and peaceful demonstration of Turkey’s civil society since 2003 – dspite the venue restrictions imposed by the government and the use of tear gas during the marches of 2019. Complementing the discussions on the endurance and containment of civic activism, the recent Gezi Park and Kavala cases are conducive for understanding the relationship between human rights defenders and autocratic legalism. Continue reading >>
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21 Februar 2020

Das Leben der Anderen

Über rechten Terror, Europa, Türkei, Italien und den fetten Bußprediger von Budapest. Continue reading >>

The Life of Others

On right-wing terrorism, Turkey, Strasbourg, Italy and the fat friar of Budapest. Continue reading >>
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19 Februar 2020

Byzantine Manoeuvres

The case of Osman Kavala, just as that of Selahettin Demirtaş, shows that that a system that breeds Article 18 violations responds to these judgments through yet more Article 18 violations. Bad faith rulings in Strasbourg have so far only received bad faith responses. Continue reading >>
20 Januar 2020

Why the Turkish Constitutional Court’s Wikipedia Decision is No Reason to Celebrate

The Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) recently lifted the ban on Wikipedia and a surge of, in my view, unwarranted optimism has now sprung out of nowhere both among international and Turkish circles following the case closely. I fail to share this optimism. By all means, the lifting of the ban on Wikipedia is something to be happy about. But the timing and content of the TCC’s decision, when especially read through the political context in which it was handed down, do not give much reason to celebrate. Continue reading >>
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09 Januar 2020
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The Turkish Judiciary’s Violations of Human Rights Guarantees

On 3 December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the case of Parmak & Bakir v Turkey that the Turkish judiciary’s interpretation of the offence of membership of an armed terrorist organization violated Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, being the absolute right to no punishment without law. Although the case deals with incidents from 2002, it shows how Turkey’s post-coup terrorism trials violate Turkey’s obligations under the ECHR. Continue reading >>
11 Dezember 2019

Turkey’s Disregard for the Freedom of Movement

Through Emergency Decree Laws and Law no. 7188, the Turkish government has severely restricted the freedom of movement of hundreds of thousands of citizens by cancelling their passports or refusing to issue a new one. These laws and the corresponding practice not only violate the Turkish constitution but also contravene Turkey’s human rights obligations under regional and international law. Continue reading >>
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04 Dezember 2019

Time for Strasbourg to Open its Doors to Turkey’s Purged Public Servants

A report by the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project (TLSP) provides fresh evidence that the Commission formed in 2017 to examine the mass dismissals of public servants and liquidation of media outlets and other organisations functions arbitrarily and without transparency. Together with concerns about judicial review by administrative courts and the Constitutional Court, the report casts serious doubt on whether victims of abuses committed under emergency laws have access to an effective domestic remedy – a finding with implications for the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as it considers the long queue of Turkish applications before it. Continue reading >>
24 Oktober 2019

Abusive Constitutional Lip Service

Amid Turkey’s heated agenda of constitutional politics during the past few years one issue seems to have received little to no attention: President Erdogan’s repeated call for reinstating the death penalty. Can Erdogan reinstate the death penalty? No, simply because he doesn’t have enough political support. But that isn’t the point. The point is how Erdogan uses the (unfulfillable) constitutional promise to reinstate the death penalty to consolidate his base. Continue reading >>
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23 Oktober 2019

Der Schutz kultureller Rechte am Beispiel der „Kurdenpolitik“ der Türkei

Dass das Völkerrecht den jüngsten Angriff der Türkei auf die nördlichen Provinzen Syriens nicht deckt, hat nicht nur der wissenschaftliche Dienst des Bundestages bereits ausführlich dargelegt. Darüber hinaus stellt sich die Frage, ob hier der Beginn eines (kulturellen) Völkermordes stattfindet. Das Völkerstrafrecht kennt den Tatbestand des kulturellen Völkermordes nicht und der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte übt sich in Zurückhaltung, wenn kollektive Rechte betroffen sind. So entsteht eine gravierende Rechtslücke im Menschenrechtsschutz, die zumindest auf europäischer Ebene dringend geschlossen werden sollte. Continue reading >>
11 Oktober 2019

„Regelbasierte Weltordnung“ unter Beschuss

Während aus türkischer Sicht die Prinzipien von territorialer Integrität, Souveränität und Nichteinmischung höchsten Rang genießen, ist die staatliche Souveränität Syriens im Laufe der vergangenen Kriegsjahre immer durchlässiger geworden und bietet keinen Schutz mehr vor geostrategischen Einmischungen der Türkei. Gleichzeitig spielt völkerrechtliche Rhetorik für die Türkei eine nicht zu unterschätzende Rolle, vor allem wenn es um die Rechtfertigung von Interventionen und militärischer Gewaltanwendung geht. Continue reading >>
28 September 2019

Did Turkey’s Recent Emergency Decrees Derogate from the Absolute Rights?

Following a coup attempt by a small group in the Turkish Armed Forces in 2016, the Turkish Government declared a state of emergency for three months. Although it observed procedural rules laid down by national and international law on declaring a state of emergency, the Government's use of the emergency powers contradicts non-derogable rights laid down in the Turkish Constitution, the ICCPR and the ECHR. Continue reading >>
11 September 2019

Recognizing Court-Packing

There is near scholarly consensus that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has successfully packed the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC). Court packing is commonly understood as expanding the membership of the court, appointing judges with long tenures that extend beyond a couple of election cycles, and who are ideologically committed to the executive’s constitutional vision. These elements, however, are still foreign to Turkey’s political elites. Continue reading >>
15 Juni 2019

Being a Good Dictator is not so Easy

On investigative journalists, homeless people, aberrant academics and other sources of civic unrest and discomfort. Continue reading >>
14 Juni 2019

Producing Legal History

Iustitia dilata est iustitia negata is a famous legal maxim meaning that “justice delayed is justice denied”. It goes without saying that it represents a universal truth. This truth is particularly relevant to the European Court of Human Rights which - on average - takes several years to deliver a judgment. Continue reading >>
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27 Mai 2019

A Do-Over for Istanbul: Gripping Electoral Law and Democratic Resilience

On 31 March 2019, Turkey’s municipal elections resulted in a shock defeat for the ruling AK Party of president Erdoğan in the overwhelming majority of metropolitan cities. The Supreme Electoral Board canceled the Istanbul election soon after by announcing its reasoning on 22 May. The entire process illustrates how the AK Party has been adjusting the electoral law in a way that has now resulted in the cancellation and re-run of Istanbul’s mayoral election. Continue reading >>
04 Mai 2019

Independent Journalism v. Political Courts: The Cumhuriyet Trial in Turkey and Strasbourg

Shortly after Turkey’s ruling AK party lost control of metropolitan cities in the local elections of April 2019, a crucial verdict of the regional appellate court in a major case of journalism was brought forth in the national judicial network system. This case is known as the Cumhuriyet trial. Through silence, delay, or selective responsiveness, not only the Turkish Constitutional Court but also the European Court of Human Rights are playing their part in the ongoing demise of Turkey’s freedom of the press. Continue reading >>
28 März 2019

Is This President Erdogan’s Last Term in Office? A Note on Constitutional Interpretive Possibilities

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected as president in 2014. In 2018, he was elected to the same position for a second term. The Turkish Constitution, aside from one exceptional case, is clear in its command that no-one may serve as president for more than two terms. Is this, then, President Erdogan’s last term in office? The short answer is maybe. Continue reading >>
10 Oktober 2018

Should the ECtHR Consider Turkey’s Criminal Peace Judgeships a Viable Domestic Avenue?

Turkey has seen an erosion of democracy in recent years, particularly since the July 2016 coup attempt. The European Court of Human Rights has received over 33,000 applications from the country. However, more than 90% have been rejected, many on the basis that they have yet to exhaust viable domestic avenues. This is a conundrum when there is no viable domestic judicial system that is independent from the state. Of notable concern is the Criminal Peace Judgeships (CPJ). Continue reading >>
30 August 2018

Prosecuting a Judge that Enjoys Diplomatic Immunity: the Case of Judge Aydın Sefa Akay

After the coup attempt on 15 July 2016, more than 80,000 people have been detained in Turkey. One of the most interesting incidents was undoubtedly the arrest of International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals’ (MICT) (former) Judge Aydın Sefa Akay. The main problem in this situation was whether Judge Akay enjoyed diplomatic immunity even from his own State’s jurisdiction. What happened with Judge Akay has manifested the deficiency of international rules regarding the immunity of international judges and, moreover, that said rules must be so articulated that they leave no room for similar incidents in the future. Continue reading >>
20 Juli 2018

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? Continue reading >>
17 Juli 2018

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. Continue reading >>
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23 Juni 2018

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. Continue reading >>
13 Juni 2018

“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.  Continue reading >>
09 Mai 2018

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

There is almost not a day that passes without terrorism […] Continue reading >>
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27 März 2018

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. Continue reading >>
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20 Februar 2018

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. Continue reading >>
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27 Januar 2018

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. Continue reading >>
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22 Januar 2018

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. Continue reading >>
20 Dezember 2017

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? Continue reading >>
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26 September 2017

Rethinking Turkish Secularism: Towards “Unofficial” Islamic Constitutionalism?

There are both domestic and foreign concerns that Turkey is a theocracy in the making or some “attenuated” version thereof.  While most of these concerns are full of extravagant exaggerations, often suggesting Iran as an example Turkey is allegedly headed towards, there is a certain element of truth embedded in these concerns. Continue reading >>
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01 Juni 2017

The Constitutional Referendum in Turkey: A far Stretch from Right to Free Elections to Referenda?

The Constitutional referendum in Turkey left many voters uncertain about the actual outcome: Unstamped ballots were registered as valid and an appeal against that procedure did not show any satisfying results. Will an appeal in front of the ECtHR show more favourable results? Continue reading >>
15 Mai 2017

Abusive comparativism: “Pseudo-comparativist” political discourse as a means to legitimizing constitutional change in Turkey

The constitutional amendment process has arguably weakened Turkey’s already-fragile constitutionalist system. This is well known. What is less known and pretty much overlooked is that comparativism and specifically comparative constitutionalism has suffered at the hands of Turkish political elites during the legal and political discussions that preceded the referendum. Continue reading >>
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02 Mai 2017

Populism and the Turkish Constitutional Court: the Game Broker, the Populist and the Popular

Populist strategies have for some time been an integral part […] Continue reading >>
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21 April 2017

Türkei-Referendum vor dem EGMR: Warum der Gang nach Straßburg diesmal wohl nicht helfen wird

Nachdem die türkische Wahlkommission den Antrag einiger Oppositionsparteien auf Annullierung des Verfassungsreferendums vom 16. April verworfen hat, erwägt die oppositionelle CHP Medienberichten zufolge den Gang nach Straßburg. Dem halten türkische Spitzenpolitiker entgegen, der EGMR sei hierfür nicht zuständig. Was ist hiervon zu halten? Continue reading >>
02 April 2017

Germany and the Erdogan Referendum: the Case for External Voting and Dual Citizenship

Almost a million and a half Turkish citizens resident in Germany are eligible to cast absentee ballots in a Turkish referendum to scrap its parliamentary system. The run-up to the referendum had German authorities obstructing pro-Erdogan rallies, to which Erdogan himself responded with charges that the German government was engaging in “Nazi practices.” The episode marks perhaps the most prominent and controversial example of external political campaigning since such activity has become normalized among states. Continue reading >>
30 März 2017
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Freiheit der (Auslands-)Wahl: Musste Deutschland der Türkei die Durchführung des Verfassungsreferendums gestatten?

Seit Montag dieser Woche sind rund 1,4 Millionen in Deutschland lebende türkische Staatsangehörige aufgerufen, in dem umstrittenen Verfassungsreferendum abzustimmen. Die Bundesregierung hatte die Durchführung der Wahl in Konsularvertretungen und eigens für das Referendum eingerichteten Wahllokalen mit dem expliziten Hinweis darauf erlaubt, dass Deutschland zu seinen demokratischen Grundsätzen stehe und sich die Entscheidung in eine Tradition früherer Genehmigungen türkischer Wahlen in Deutschland und dem europäischen Ausland eingliedere. Was bedeutet der Verweis auf die “demokratischen Grundsätze” und die “lange Kontinuität”, Wahlen auf deutschem Boden zu erlauben? Handelt es sich hierbei um rein politische Kulanz, um eine Tendenz, eine völkerrechtliche Praxis zu begründen, oder gar um eine völkerrechtliche Pflicht? Oder hatte im Gegenzug die Türkei die Pflicht, Deutschland um eine solche Genehmigung zu ersuchen? Und hätte eine Versagung der Genehmigung Konsequenzen jenseits einer erneuten Schlechtwetterphase in den deutsch-türkischen Beziehungen gehabt? Continue reading >>
29 März 2017

Brücken für die Diaspora: ein Interview mit RAINER BAUBÖCK

"Die richtige Antwort auf die Unterstützung autoritärer Herkunftsregime durch manche Einwanderer ist es, sie für die deutsche Rechtsordnung und Demokratie zu gewinnen. Und das setzt voraus, das man ihnen den Zugang dazu gewährt. Diesen Zugang kann man auf zwei Weisen gewähren, durch Einbürgerung oder durch das kommunale Ausländerwahlrecht." Continue reading >>
14 März 2017

Le gouvernement de soi et des autres: Zu Auftrittsverboten für türkische Regierungsmitglieder

Die hochproblematische Verfassungsreform in der Türkei führt innerhalb der EU zu ungewöhnlichen Allianzen: In seltener Einmütigkeit wird länderübergreifend von ganz rechts bis weit ins linke politische Spektrum hinein ein Auftrittsverbot für türkische Politiker gefordert. Das gefühlt häufigste Argument bemüht dabei die Souveränität: Man möchte die Kampagne der türkischen Regierung für ihre die Gewaltenteilung gefährdende Verfassungsreform nicht auch noch im eigenen Land haben. In einer pluralistischen Gesellschaft weckt solche Einmütigkeit Zweifel, die sich bei näherem Hinschauen verfestigen – und zwar in juristischer wie politischer Hinsicht. Continue reading >>
10 März 2017

Die transnationale wehrhafte Demokratie

Dürfen wir in Deutschland und Österreich die türkische Demokratie verteidigen? Schließlich bedrohen die Verfassungsreformpläne Erdogans zunächst einmal die türkische demokratische Grundordnung, nicht „unsere“. Können wir trotzdem Auftritte türkischer Politiker in Deutschland und Österreich verbieten, wenn sie für eine Staatsordnung werben, die wir mit „unserer“ für unvereinbar halten? Oder muss uns das Schicksal der liberalen Demokratie in der Türkei egal sein? Das ist die Frage nach der transnationalen wehrhaften Demokratie. Die EMRK könnte die Antwort darauf haben, denn sie ist der Türkei, Deutschland und Österreich gemein. Continue reading >>
04 März 2017

Bitte nicht reden! Auftritte ausländischer Regierungsmitglieder in Deutschland

Um die Auftritte türkischer Spitzenpolitiker in Deutschland zu verhindern, wurde bisher mit sicherheitsrelevanten Bedenken argumentiert. Doch es stellt sich die Frage: Was kann man tun, wenn man den Auftritt eines ausländischen Vertreters untersagen will, obwohl der Parkplatz groß genug und die Polizei ausreichend gegen Ausschreitungen gewappnet ist? Continue reading >>
13 Februar 2017

Presidentialism à la Turka or what? The (missing) logic behind the constitutional amendments

Erdoğan’s efforts to inscribe his understanding of presidential domination into the Turkish constitution should not be mistaken for a systematic turn towards a presidential model of government. The inbuilt inconsistencies of the reform may well develop some serious unintended side effects causing political deadlock and institutional breakdown in the long run. Continue reading >>
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31 Januar 2017

New Constitutional Amendment Proposal in Turkey: A Threat to Pluralistic Democracy!

Turkey will hold a referendum on a fundamental constitutional reform, probably in April. The designed political regime is neither parliamentarism nor presidentialism. Although the government calls the new political regime as a “Turkish type of presidentialism” with a populist discourse; in reality, the new regime will bring a kind of “delegative democracy”, which is seen usually in the South American, sub-Saharan African and in central Asian countries. Continue reading >>
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28 Januar 2017
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The Final Trick? Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and the Recomposition of the Turkish State

The Turkish parliament has recently passed constitutional amendments that will, pending the public referendum in spring 2017, set aside decades of parliamentary system tradition. Presumably aimed to repair the dysfunctions of the current regime and to respond to the need of a “stronger Turkey”, the proposed draft does not only eradicate the principle of separation of powers but rebuilds the state according to the interests of ruling groups, without much consideration being paid to the overall integrity of the system and long term implications. Continue reading >>
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27 Januar 2017

The Turkish Constitutional Court under the Amended Turkish Constitution

In March 2016, the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) ruled that the rights of the Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül had been violated, leading to their release from prison after three months. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by criticizing the TCC sharply, questioning its existence and legitimacy. This had not been the first time over the last years, that the Court had been attacked. The constitutional amendments, that will be put to referendum in April 2017, seemed to be a golden opportunity to change the composition and cut back the broad competences of the TCC. Did the AKP-led Parliamentary Constitutional Committee seize this opportunity? Continue reading >>
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30 Dezember 2016
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Turkey’s draft constitutional amendments: harking back to 1876?

In the last month of 2016, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the fourth biggest party, the National Movement Party (MHP) unveiled a controversial new draft constitution which aims at a total system change. Initially, the most striking changes include the strengthening of the presidency with several new powers and no accountability to the judiciary. Furthermore, the way is cleared for Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to rule the country until 2029, and who knows – maybe even longer. Continue reading >>
21 November 2016

Mercan v. Turkey: Waiting for the Last Word of the Turkish Constitutional Court

For the time being, the fallout of the attempted coup d’ètat of July 15th 2016 in Turkey will not reach Strasbourg. Victims of alleged human rights violations first have to exhaust domestic remedies before they can apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). This is the result of Mercan v. Turkey, the first of more than 3000 applications regarding alleged violations after the attempted coup and the declaration of a state of emergency. The Strasbourg court views the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) not as per se incapable of adjudicating in these cases in an effective way. If the TCC can live up to these expectations remains to be seen. Continue reading >>
08 August 2016

Erdogan in Köln – Zumutungen des Versammlungsrechts II

Letzte Woche habe ich die Entscheidungen zu der Pro-Erdogan Kundgebung in Köln kommentiert. Zum Zeitpunkt der Veröffentlichung lag mir der Auflagenbescheid des Polizeipräsidiums Köln nicht vor. Da es hierzu Fragen gab und der Bescheid mir nun zugänglich gemacht wurde, möchte ich meine bisherigen Ausführungen ergänzen. Continue reading >>
03 August 2016

Erdogan in Köln: Zumutungen des Versammlungsrechts

Das Verbot, den türkischen Staatspräsidenten Erdogan per Videoübertragung vor Kölner Demonstranten reden zu lassen, weckt versammlungsrechtliche Zweifel. Will sich die rechtsstaatliche Demokratie nicht angreifbar machen, muss sie ihre eigenen Standards einhalten. Dies betrifft auch den Umgang mit antidemokratischen und rechtsstaatswidrigen Anfeindungen. Continue reading >>
26 Juli 2016

The Principle of Non-Refoulement as a Constitutional Right of Asylum Seekers in Turkey

Refugee migration has always been a phenomenon for many countries in the modern age and Turkey is no exception. Since the 20th Century Turkey hosted hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and refugees from different countries. Continue reading >>
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20 Juli 2016

Crackdown in der Türkei: einige Gedanken zur Ausreisefreiheit

Die türkische Regierung will nach dem gescheiterten Putsch sämtliche Hochschulangestellte des Landes daran hindern, ins Ausland zu reisen. Der Vorgang lenkt den Blick auf ein Recht, mit dem es gerade aus deutscher Perspektive eine ganz besondere Bewandtnis hat: das Recht auf Ausreisefreiheit. Continue reading >>
19 Juli 2016

Can Greece lawfully extradite the eight Turkish soldiers to Turkey?

Turkey demands the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece on Saturday 16 July after Friday’s failed coup, using an army helicopter. The key question is whether they would face a ‘real risk’ of ill-treatment contrary to Art. 3 ECHR. I tentatively conclude that such real risk is made out. Continue reading >>
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Weimar Turkey?

The current configuration of power in Turkey is a direct product of a deep-seated legacy of authoritarian politics, both military and “civilian”. Far from marking a rupture with the past, recent events can only be understood against the background of this tradition. Continue reading >>
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19 Mai 2016

“De-constitutionalism” in Turkey?

Can “de-” be a modifier to describe the constitutionalism in a country? "De-constitutionalism" is what Prof. Kemal Gözler, a constitutional law scholar, has termed the current state of constitutionalism in Turkey. His argument is that constitutional bad faith practices employed by the constitutional institutions (mainly the executive, but also the judiciary) lead one to hold the view that there is no more a (valid) constitution in Turkey. Whatever it is termed, one thing is certain: that Turkey is undergoing a constitutional deadlock or crisis, and its indicators can be observed on many occasions. Continue reading >>
26 April 2016

Pluralismus-Lehrstunde für die Türkei

Mit zwei wichtigen Entscheidungen, eine davon sogar epochal wichtig, versucht der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte in Straßburg heute, die Türkei auf den Pfad zu Pluralismus und Rechtsstaatlichkeit zu lenken. Beide betreffen Regelwerke und Rechtspraktiken, die dem Staat erheblichen Spielraum gewähren, je nach Nützlichkeit und Laune so oder anders zu entscheiden. Beide verschaffen Minderheiten, vor denen der Staat Angst hat, Schutz. Beide hindern den Staat daran, sich um ihrer besseren Lenkbarkeit willen eine uniforme Gesellschaft zu schaffen. Beide werden der Türkei noch schwer zu schaffen machen. Continue reading >>
22 April 2016

Die Causa Böhmermann: Ein Tiefpunkt und noch ein Tiefpunkt und noch ein Tiefpunkt

Die Frage, die der Fall Böhmermann aufwirft, ist nicht, ob Böhmermann sich strafbar gemacht hat oder nicht und die Bundesregierung ihre Ermächtigung zur Strafverfolgung erteilen durfte oder nicht. Sondern die Frage ist, ob es Sinn macht, in diesem Fall mit dem Recht zu kommen. Das hängt auf einer ersten und vordergründigen Ebene davon ab, ob das Recht auf diesen Fall überhaupt eine Antwort oder jedenfalls eine einigermaßen klare Antwort hat. Hat es eine Antwort? Continue reading >>

Causa Böhmermann: Die Rückkehr der Staatsehre?

Die Entscheidung zur Ermächtigung der deutschen Staatsanwaltschaft, gegen Jan Böhmermann ein Strafverfahren nach § 103 StGB einzuleiten, wird naturgemäß hitzig diskutiert. Über die politischen, straf- und menschenrechtlichen Aspekte hinaus weist der Fall auch eine nicht zu verachtende allgemein-völkerrechtliche Komponente auf: Die Achtung der Ehre fremder Staaten. Continue reading >>
15 April 2016

Anmerkung zur Ermächtigung der Bundesregierung im Fall Böhmermann

Was hat die Kanzlerin mit ihrer Ermächtigung der Strafjustiz, gegen Jan Böhmermann wegen Verstoßes gegen § 103 StGB vorzugehen, gesagt? Und was steht dabei auf dem Spiel? Anmerkungen eines Philosophen zu einem potenziellen Tag für die verfassungshistorischen Geschichtsbücher. Continue reading >>

Die Kanzlerin schützt den Rechtsstaat. Oder wie?

In einem Rechtsstaat, so Kanzlerin Angela Merkel in Sachen Böhmermann, sei „es nicht Sache der Regierung, sondern von Staatsanwaltschaften und Gerichten, das Persönlichkeitsrecht und andere Belange gegen die Presse- und Kunstfreiheit abzuwägen“. Wieso eigentlich nicht? Warum gibt es dann überhaupt ein einschlägiges Ermächtigungsdelikt? Tatsächlich ist nach Art. 1 Abs. 3 GG die Bundesregierung durchaus verpflichtet, eine entsprechende Grundrechtsabwägung vorzunehmen. Continue reading >>
11 April 2016

Erlaubte Schmähkritik? Die verfassungsrechtliche Dimension der causa Jan Böhmermann

Jan Böhmermanns Spottverse auf den türkischen Präsidenten Erdoğan sind erklärtermaßen Schmähkritik und als solche nicht von der Meinungsfreiheit aus Art. 5 GG gedeckt – eigentlich. Kann Schmähkritik so verpackt werden, dass diese ausnahmsweise die Grenzen des Zulässigen nicht überschreitet? Fällt sie auch dann aus dem Schutzbereich der Meinungsfreiheit heraus, wenn ihr Verfasser mit dieser „Verpackung“ deutlich macht, dass es ihm erkennbar gerade nicht um den Inhalt der Schmähkritik selbst, sondern um etwas (wiederum erkennbar) anderes geht. Einiges spricht hier dafür, die Meinungsfreiheit tatsächlich in diesem Sinne zu interpretieren. Continue reading >>
12 März 2016

Taking refugee rights seriously: A reply to Professor Hailbronner

Reactions to the proposed “refugee swap” between the EU and Turkey have been predictably absolutist. On the one hand, most advocates have opposed the draft arrangement, asserting some combination of the right of refugees to be protected where they choose and/or that a protection swap would clearly breach the ECHR’s prohibition of “collective expulsion” of aliens. On the other hand, Professor Hailbronner argues against any right of refugees to make their own decisions about how to access protection, believes that refugees may be penalized if arriving in the EU “without the necessary documents,” suggests that it does not matter that Turkey is not relevantly a party to the Refugee Convention, and confidently asserts that there is no basis to see the prohibition of “collective expulsion” as engaged here. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Continue reading >>
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11 März 2016

Legal Requirements for the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement: A Reply to J. Hathaway

There are many open questions and objections against the EU-Turkey deal on an agreement whose details are yet to be negotiated to manage the Syrian refugee crisis. In particular on the reciprocity part: could the agreement as an easily available tool by Turkey to blackmail visa liberalization and progress in the EU Accession negotiations? How will the EU make sure the proper treatment of all returnees? How is the resettlement of refugees from Syria to the EU (and to Germany) going to take place? James Hathaway on this blog has listed three legal requirements for the agreement to be legal. In my view none of these are likely to block an agreement. Continue reading >>
09 März 2016

Why the EU-Turkey Deal is Legal and a Step in the Right Direction

Pro-refugee NGOs were quick to castigate the EU-Turkey refugee deal for falling foul of the EU’s on legal standards and for being an anti-humanitarian solution, in particular insofar as forced returns to Turkey are concerned. Academics also present a critical outlook reiterating the legal criticism or criticising the EU for burden-shifting. The critique highlights a number of valid concerns, but these caveats do not unmake the legal and conceptual value of the approach pursued by the EU: mass-influx scenarios require international cooperation. Continue reading >>

Three legal requirements for the EU-Turkey deal: An interview with JAMES HATHAWAY

"The right to decide where to seek recognition of refugee status does not entail the right to choose where international refugee protection is to be enjoyed": One of the foremost experts in international refugee law, James C. Hathaway (Michigan), gives some preliminary indications on the legality of the emerging EU-Turkey agreement on Syrian refugee resettlement. Continue reading >>
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08 März 2016

Einer raus, einer rein: vielleicht keine Lösung, aber immerhin Völkerrecht

Für jeden syrischen Flüchtling, den die Türkei aus Chios, Lesbos und Kos zurücknimmt, lässt die EU einen anderen syrischen Flüchtling aus der Türkei legal einreisen. Ein bewegliches Kontingent soll es geben, das den Syrern in der Türkei als legale, sichere und preiswerte Alternative zum Schlauchboot offen steht und dessen Größe schrumpft und wächst mit der Zahl der irregulär eingereisten Flüchtlinge, die die Türkei aus Griechenland wieder zurücknimmt. Das ist der Plan nach dem gestrigen EU-Gipfel in Brüssel. Pro Asyl findet ihn ganz fürchterlich. Ich bin da ehrlich gesagt nicht so sicher. Continue reading >>
05 November 2015

Perinçek v. Switzerland: Between Freedom of Speech and Collective Dignity

In its recent Grand Chamber decision "Perinçek v Switzerland" the ECtHR, once again, declares Armenian genocide denial protected against criminal prosecution by the right to free speech. The Court substantially disregards the specific atmosphere of denialism and gross violations of the rights of minorities in Turkey, moving central attention instead to Switzerland where – supposedly – no tensions are possible on the anti-Armenian grounds. The Court has failed to acknowledge the existence of the anti-Armenianism as a specific ideology prevalent amongst Turkish and Azeri nationalists, including those scattered in huge Turkish diasporas in Europe these days. Continue reading >>
08 Juni 2015

Die Parlamentswahlen in der Türkei: eine verfassungspolitische Zäsur

Von rechts bis links sind alle Parteien in der Türkei der Meinung, dass die Verfassung der Putschisten geändert und das Land reformiert werden muss. Das Wahlergebnis zwingt zwar alle gewissen Kompromisse einzugehen. Die divergierenden Interessen der verschiedenen Gruppen machen es sehr schwierig, durch eine Verfassungsänderung die dringend nötigen Reformen einzuführen. Die Türkei hat aber keine andere Chance als die Integration der Minderheiten über eine föderal ausgestaltete Verfassung. Nur durch multiethnische und multireligiöse Vielfalt mit einer neuen föderal ausgerichteten Verfassung kann die Türkei dem Schicksal entgehen, das ihre Nachbarstaaten zurzeit erleben. Continue reading >>
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17 Januar 2015

The Constitutional Status of Women in Turkey at a Crossroads: Reflections from Comparison

Since its foundation, the Turkish Republic took the enhanced status of women to epitomize its promise of modernity. Yet to the extent that women's equality was even articulated in Turkey, as well as anywhere else in that time, its expression was primarily sought in the public, not in the private, domain. Sex inequalities are still present in the Turkish legal order and the Turkish Constitutional Court has thus far had an erratic jurisprudence, sometimes prioritizing the need to overcome gender stereotypes and hierarchies, sometimes justifying unequal treatment and perpetuating such gender stereotypes. Continue reading >>
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09 Dezember 2014

The Electoral Threshold Case in Turkey

According to recent statements made to a journalist by the President Hasim Kilic of the Turkish Constitutional Court, the Court will soon deliver a decision on the 10% electoral threshold that exists for political parties to be represented in Parliament in a case brought before the Court by three political parties through the constitutional complaint, also known as the “individual application” mechanism. The statement made by Justice Kilic has led the Court to confront a difficult situation, once again. A heated public debate has already begun around the issue. Continue reading >>
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22 Oktober 2014

Strafen für Atatürk-Beleidigungen: Straßburg, wie hältst du’s mit der Meinungsfreiheit?

Jemanden für 13 Jahre ins Gefängnis zu sperren, weil er ein paar Atatürk-Statuen mit Farbe beschmiert hat, ist unverhältnismäßig. Zu diesem wenig überraschenden Schluss kommt der EGMR heute in einer Kammerentscheidung gegen die Türkei. Interessant wird die Entscheidung durch die Sondervoten: Drei der sieben Kammermitglieder nehmen den Fall zum Anlass, eine gerichtsinterne Diskussion vom Zaun zu brechen, wie sie grundsätzlicher nicht sein könnte – nämlich über Nutzen, Grenzen und Ausgestaltung des in Straßburg praktizierten Verhältnismäßigkeitstests. Continue reading >>
14 Mai 2014

Der EGMR als regionaler IGH? Entschädigung und Bestrafung im Staatenbeschwerdeverfahren

„The Cyprus v. Turkey (just satisfaction) case is the most important contribution to peace in Europe in the history of the European Court of Human Rights.” Wenn Richter ihre Entscheidungen so feiern wie der Richter Pinto de Albuquerque in seinem Sondervotum, dann besteht meistens Anlass zur Skepsis. Was ist passiert? Continue reading >>
12 Mai 2014

Straßburg verschafft sich mehr Durchschlagskraft

Es kommt nicht jeden Tag vor, dass ein Gerichtsurteil von der Richterbank aus in den Urteilsgründen als "wichtigster Beitrag zum Frieden in Europa in der Geschichte des Gerichts" und Beginn einer "neuen Ära in der Durchsetzung der Menschenrechte" gefeiert wird. So geschehen heute in Straßburg anlässlich der Entscheidung der Großen Kammer des EGMR, die Türkei zu verurteilen, Zypern 90 Millionen Euro zu zahlen, um damit griechisch-zypriotische Opfer türkischer Repressalien bei der Besetzung von Nordzypern 1974 zu entschädigen. Continue reading >>
13 Februar 2014

Armenian Genocide v. Holocaust in Strasbourg: Trivialisation in Comparison

At the end of 2013, the European Court of Human Rights delivered an impressively extensive judgement in the case Perinçek v. Switzerland. The condemnation of a Turkish politician for the denial of Armenian genocide by Swiss courts violated freedom of expression. Along with many human rights scholars, I would hardly shake hands with a Holocaust or an Armenian genocide denier. Yet I will be equally sceptical of courtrooms being appropriate sites to qualify historical truth. For a summary of that position, see my recent paper (“Historical Revisionism: Law, Politics, and Surrogate Mourning”). At first glance, the outcome of Perinçek is a victory for civil rights. Limiting historical discussion by criminal prosecution is clearly an anachronism in the 21st century. However, on a deeper reading, this decision reveals yet another judicial pitfall which substantially undermines its outcome for freedom of speech in Europe. This pitfall stems from a sort of legal hypocrisy embedded in the Court’s distinction between the Holocaust and other mass atrocities of the 20th century.At the end of 2013, the European Court of Human Rights delivered an impressively extensive judgement in the case Perinçek v. Switzerland. The condemnation of a Turkish politician for the denial of Armenian genocide by Swiss courts violated freedom of expression. Along with many human rights scholars, I would hardly shake hands with a Holocaust or an Armenian genocide denier. Yet I will be equally sceptical of courtrooms being appropriate sites to qualify historical truth. For a summary of that position, see my recent paper (“Historical Revisionism: Law, Politics, and Surrogate Mourning”). At first glance, the outcome of Perinçek is a victory for civil rights. Limiting historical discussion by criminal prosecution is clearly an anachronism in the 21st century. However, on a deeper reading, this decision reveals yet another judicial pitfall which substantially undermines its outcome for freedom of speech in Europe. This pitfall stems from a sort of legal hypocrisy embedded in the Court’s distinction between the Holocaust and other mass atrocities of the 20th century. Continue reading >>
16 Mai 2013

Der jüngste Parabolantenne-Beschluss: Karlsruhe doing diversity

Das Bundesverfassungsgericht hat erneut eine Entscheidung in der Frage gefällt, […] Continue reading >>
14 Mai 2013

Constitutional Renewal in Turkey: Some Questions Concerning Constitutional Theory

Turkey is currently undergoing a process of drafting a new […] Continue reading >>
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12 April 2013

Einstweilige im NSU-Prozess: Karlsruhe ex machina

Die 3. Kammer des Ersten Senats hat dem Vorsitzenden des […] Continue reading >>
19 April 2011

Türkei: Verwirrung der verfassungspolitischen Reflexe

Das verfassungspolitisch spannendste Land der Welt ist zurzeit, neben Ungarn, […] Continue reading >>
11 November 2010

EGMR fällt weiteres Anti-Islam-Urteil

Ein Schulbeispiel, wie der herrschende Laizismusdiskurs einen blind machen kann […] Continue reading >>
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