A spokesperson for the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) has called on the Turkish government and the Constitutional Court to implement rulings handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in line with the international treaties it has signed, Turkish Minute reported.
DEVA spokesperson and lawyer İdris Şahin said on his X social media account that the raison dĕtre of the Constitutional Court is to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals against the political authority.
He said it is high time for the Constitutional Court to review its decisions that are contrary to the rulings of the Strasbourg-based court and work to prevent similar rights violations in the future.
“The Constitutional Court can smooth out its differences with Strasbourg by basing its rulings on the European Convention on Human Rights and taking the court’s rulings as precedent,” he said.
Turkey, which has refused to implement the rights court’s rulings in the cases of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and prominent businessman and civil society leader Osman Kavala, has also been unsettled by a decision from the court’s Grand Chamber last month about a teacher who was convicted of terrorism due to his links to the faith-based Gülen movement.
The court faulted Turkey for the conviction of the teacher, Yüksel Yalçınkaya, on Gülen links due to his alleged use of a mobile application, his bank account and labor union membership. The court concluded that Yalçınkaya’s conviction violated several legal principles enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to a fair trial, the principle of no crime without law and the right to association.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Chief Justice Arslan, who spoke to reporters at a reception last Sunday, said the Constitutional Court’s decision on Yalçınkaya was clear and that the ECtHR has made a different ruling.
“We don’t agree with the ECtHR’s ruling,” he said, adding that the top court would revisit the case during the teacher’s retrial.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç also spoke out against the ECtHR’s Yalçınkaya decision and accused the court of exceeding its authority.
DEVA’s Şahin said the Turkish government has to act in line with the international treaties it signed if it wants to become a part of the “free world.”
“You cannot deliver justice by oppressing your own people and putting them in the same basket with the coup plotters,” he said, in an implicit reference to the Yalçınkaya case.
Turkey, which many say underwent an erosion in the rule of law following a coup attempt in 2016, was ranked 116th among 140 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in October 2022.