Statistics on judgments of the ECHR on Turkey

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The European Court of Human Rights (here shortened ECHR) publishes annual reports on its activities. On its website you can find The reports between 2001 and 2008. Most figures were compiled using these reports.

Contents

Overall situation

The ECHR has a heavy workload. This can be highlighted with the following tables. There have been several attempts to cope with this workload that was much higher at the time when a commission (the European Commission of Human Rights) inspected the applications before they were referred to the "Court". Thus the lists below start on 1 November 1998 (when the "Commission" was dissolved). Among the long list of member States only the ones with high number of applications were chosen.

Table 1: Applications between 1 November 1998 and 31 December 2008

Country
Position
Germany France Poland Romania Russia Turkey Ukraine
applications 11,718 15,838 32,344 23,461 56,821 24,945 22,083
inadmissible 9,406 13,170 29,111 14,558 29,119 13,615 13,359
admissible 903 662 632 486 801 2,237 665

For the number of applications Turkey is only topped by Russia and Poland. The number of applications declared inadmissible is high for all countries, but Turkey is leading in relation to applications declared admissible, followed by Germany.

A look at Article 35 of the ECHR on "Admissibility criteria" might provide some guidance to the question why the number of applications declared inadmissible is that high. Article 35 states

1. The Court may only deal with the matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, according to the generally recognised rules of international law, and within a period of six months from the date on which the final decision was taken.
2. The Court shall not deal with any application submitted under Article 34 that
a) is anonymous; or
b) is substantially the same as a matter that has already been examined by the Court or has already been submitted to another procedure of international investigation or settlement and contains no relevant new information.
3. The Court shall declare inadmissible any individual application submitted under Article 34 which it considers incompatible with the provisions of the Convention or the protocols thereto, manifestly ill-founded, or an abuse of the right of application.
4. The Court shall reject any application which it considers inadmissible under this Article. It may do so at any stage of the proceedings.''

Table 2: Violations between 1 November 1998 and 31 December 2008

Country
Position
Germany France Poland Romania Russia Turkey Ukraine
at least one 66 494 548 429 605 1,652 476
no violation 21 65 37 12 22 34 3
friendly s. 9 50 40 21 11 203 2
total of judgments 98 623 630 478 643 1,905 482

In this category France is leading for cases where no violation was found, followed by Poland and Turkey. Turkey has the highest number of judgments that detected at least one violation and cases that resulted in a friendly settlement.[1]

Applications from Turkey

The following list shows the number of applications from Turkey and figures on how many cases were declared admissible and inadmissible.

Table 3: Applications from Turkey

Year
Position
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
applications 2,499 3,036 2,944 3,930 2,244 2,353 2,830 3,706
inadmissible 384 1,639 1,632 1,817 1,366 3,166 1,573 2,044
admissible 90 102 142 172 241 362 387 115

The figures here do not go back to 1 November 1998.

Jugdments on Turkey

Since 2003 the statistics of the ECHR are more detailed.

Table 4: Jugdments on Turkey

Year
Article
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Art. 2
Right to life
1 6 15 9 3 11
No effective investigation 2 18 26 21 11 16
Art. 3
Torture
1 1 - 3 8 3
Ill-treatment 8 14 27 24 23 30
No effective investigation 2 2 1 1 16 24
Art. 5
Liberty and security
9 28 49 69 95 64
Art. 6
Right to a fair trial
56 74 93 93 99 75
Length of proceedings 3 8 32 48 67 64
Art. 7
No penalty without law
1
Art. 8
Respect for privacy
5 6 3 8 5 11
Art. 10
Freedom of expression
6 20 39 35 26 20
Art. 11
Freedom to organize
2 6 7 5 5
Art. 13
Effective remedy
4 21 36 55 25 12
Art. 14
No discrimination
2
Prot. 1, Art. 1
Protection of property
5 42 65 82 58 42
Prot. 1, Art. 2
Right to education
1 1
Prot. 1, Art. 1
Right to free elections
4
Total 104 242 393 456 446 377
minimum one violation 169 54 76 154 270 312 319 257
friendly settlement 58 45 45 13 9 6 7 1
no violation 2 2 1 3 9 10 4 1
other judgments 1 6 2 6 1 5
Total 229 101 123 176 290 334 331 264

Explanatory notes

Not all the Articles of the European Convention of Human Rights are fully spelled out. In the English Wikipedia you can find the Articles and wording of the Convention and its Protocols.

During the years in questions no judgments appeared in the statistics for

  • Article 4 Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
  • Article 9 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Actually, no judgments for passed for Article 4, while some highly debatable decisions were taken regarding Article 9 (ban of headscarves and the ban of the Wealth Party).

Usually the total number of violations according to specific Articles is higher than the total number of jugdments separated according to their results, since many judgments concern more than one provision. There is no explanation why the contrary should be true for the year 2003. Looking at the press statements concerning judgments relating to Turkey in 2003, it appears that the official figures are not correct. The true figures might be

  • no violation was found in 2 cases (in both cases torture had been alleged)
  • 38 cases ended in a friendly settlement
  • in 63 cases at least one violation was detected

Problematic areas

In particular in cases concerning a violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture) the ECHR is acting like a penal court. The correspondent State is seen as the defendant and the complainant gets the position of the prosecutor, who has to present proof for the guilt of the defendant.

If such proof is not provided

- in case of torture medical reports certifying visible traces of torture are needed
- in case of death (including cases of "disappearances" the applicants (usually relatives of the victim) have to present reliable witnesses who can testify that the assailants were agents of the State

the Court will rule against a violation.

The following table was developed by extracting the information from press releases into an excel-file (2002-2007) [2]and information put together in this wiki for the year 2008. This project starts on page ECHR on Turkey since 2008.

Table 5: Judgments on Article 3 and Article 2 (violations confirmed or denied)

Year
Position
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Art. 3 violation 2 8 21 24 24 28 36
no violation 4 2 15 20 20 18 14
friendly s. 16 17
Art. 2 violation 2 2 7 11 9 6 13
no violation 3 1 12 15 17 9 5
friendly s. 7 8

Note: The friendly settlements can also count as attested violations, since the government confirms a violation in agreement to such a settlement.

Violation on procedural grounds

The statistics in particular on Article 2 and Article 3 have to be read carefully, because many cases that show a violation of these Articles do not confirm

- death caused by agents of the State or
- torture or ill-treatment

as such, but only a violation of these provisions on procedural grounds. Thus, the applicants can say my rights under Article 2 or Article 3 were violated, although the Court found no sufficient evidence for death caused by agents of the State or torture.

It would be more honest if the ECHR dealt with this cases as a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

Violations of Articles 9 and 14 denied or not dealt with

The official statistics do not show decisions concerning Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) or Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), although there have been cases from Turkey, in which violations of these provisions were alleged. The following table developed with the list based on press statements reveals that the ECHR always decided against a violation of Article 14 (with the simplified meaning that Kurds in Turkey are not discriminated against) and either decided against Article 9 (e.g. ban of headscarves) or did not deal with this complaint, because it found another violation (e.g. the ban of the Labour Party -Emek- was seen as a violation of Article 11 and did find it necessary to decide for or against a violation of Article 9, 10 and 14).[3]

Table 6: Applications alleging a violation of Articles 9 and/or 14

Year/Position 2002 2003 2004 2005
Art. 9 violation
no violation 1 2 3
Art. 14 violation
no violation 1 12 16

Further questions

This is not a complete list of problematic areas regarding judgments of the ECHR on applications from Turkey (and other countries). Further questions that would need additional research might be:

  1. Is the distinction of the ECHR between torture versus inhuman, degrading and cruel treatment and punishment well founded?
  2. Is there a difference between judgments taken on Turkey in the 1990s and this century?
  3. What is the effect of the judgments on legislation in Turkey?
  4. Could it be that the ECHR believes to have a great impact and, therefore, does not want to hurt Turkey too much?

Footnotes


  1. It should be noted that friendly settlements usually include an acknowledgement of the State that a violation happened
  2. Use the right mouse click to to download the file
  3. Decision on application 39434/98 taken on 31 May 2005
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