LawRules #10: We need to talk about the European Convention on Human Rights
Europe is larger than the EU – and a European framework aiming at preserving basic rights and freedoms as well as rule of law safeguards has been in place for 70 years precisely this November: the European Convention on Human Rights. Today, we take a deeper look at the Convention and at the institutions that work to enforce it: The European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. Are they capable of adding another layer of human rights and rule of law protection to the European legal framework? What kind of support do those institutions need in order to be able to fulfil their task? And how is their status today, 70 years after the European Convention on Human Rights has been signed?
This is what we’ll discuss in this week’s episode of We Need to Talk About the Rule of Law with our fantastic guests:
Talking about the rule of law means facing the realities of state action without muddying the waters. Exercising and accepting criticism for judgments lies at the heart of democracy and the rule of law. The fact that there are recent decisions of the ECHR which suggest that internal legal remedies work in Turkey should be a cause for concern and criticism and not for contentment. Trying to justify these decisions means ignoring the voices and testimonies worldwide explaining how non-European the court situation in Turkey really is. Encouraging lawyers to criticize autocracy should be the task of all European lawyers who believe in the rule of law. Let us take a look at what the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) stated earlier today on the situation of the Judiciary in Turkey from 2016 until now:
„On 8 December 2016 the ENCJ General Assembly suspended the High Council for Judges and Prosecutors of Turkey (currently called the Council of Judges and Prosecutors) as it no longer complied with the ENCJ Statutes and was no longer an institution which is independent of the executive and legislature ensuring the final responsibility for the support of the judiciary in the independent delivery of justice. Four years later, unfortunately, the situation has not improved and has in fact deteriorated considerably. The Council for Judges and Prosecutors is a Council in name only, as none of its actions or decisions demonstrate any concern for the independence of the judiciary. Without a Council to protect and guarantee the independent delivery of justice in Turkey, there is little hope for the Rule of Law in Turkey in general and for access to independent, fair and impartial courts for all who come before the courts including Turkish citizens. The ENCJ wishes to express, once again, its solidarity with those judges and prosecutors who, without due process or just cause have been unlawfully dismissed, detained and convicted and calls upon the relevant Turkish authorities to ensure speedy, open, fair and impartial judicial process for all detained judges and prosecutors. Reports of the trials against judges and prosecutors give little reason to believe that due process requirements are being observed or that justice is being valued. The ENCJ also commends the Turkish judges and prosecutors who have managed to find refuge outside of Turkey and continue to stand up and raise their voice for the Rule of Law and justice in Turkey.
The ENCJ Executive Board
Brussels, 8 December 2020“
We all live in the same world. Let us not pretend otherwise.
Theodora Ziamou, Judge, Council of State, Athens, Greece