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The following report appeared in Evrensel newspaper on 28 November 2018. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

Turkey violating international law for one week

Jurist Dr. Kerem Altıparmak has described the non-implementation of the ECtHR ruling calling for Demirtaş’s release as being “contrary to international law.”

Çağrı SARI
Istanbul

Debate rages over the example of Greece Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu gave in signalling that he will not implement the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)’s ruling that regards former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s detention as illegal and calls for his release. Jurist Dr. Kerem Altıparmak, who closely follows ECtHR rulings and at the same time acts as Demirtaş’s lawyer, pointed out that the ECtHR cases involving Greece that he has referred to were not “rulings in which individual measures were to be taken.” Altıparmak intimated that an instruction such as for release by the ECtHR was not articulated as being an individual measure. Altıparmak also said that countries such as Germany and France had not implemented numerous rulings but, following Russia, Turkey was the record holder. Altıparmak pointed out that Turkey has been violating international law for one week with its non-implementation of the ruling.

Kerem Altıparmak commented to Evrensel with reference to Çavuşoğlu’s decision, as he divulged to the press, to “take the ruling to the Grand Chamber,” “You can object to the Grand Chamber for the ruling to attain finality, but the Grand Chamber does not look at every ruling that comes before it and conduct an examination indicating, ‘This is right or wrong.’ Only five per cent of them are examined by the Grand Chamber. We also, in a situation in which we’re told, ’Let him be released at once,‘ do not have the luxury of saying, ‘We’re appealing or we’ve applied to the Grand Chamber and so we aren’t implementing that ruling until the decision comes out.’ That ruling must be implemented the moment it is issued. Turkey has been violating international law for one week.”

TURKEY HAS 1446 NON-IMPLEMENTED CASES

Expounding on Çavuşoğlu’s comment, “EU countries don’t implement them, either”, Kerem Altıparmak said, offering an explanation of an “individual measure” ruling:

”Yes, it is true that there are numerous unimplemented rulings. The Committee of Ministers pronounces on the implementation of ECtHR rulings. Once an ECtHR ruling is issued and becomes final, the Committee of Ministers monitors and looks at three things: First, was an individual measure recommended in the ECtHR ruling? It was recommended in the Selahattin Demirtaş ruling. It said, “Release this person.” Second, is there a situation requiring the taking of a general measure? For example, such as amending the law or, for example, as with the Turkish associations in these examples he gave, permitting these associations. It looks into whether this general measure was taken. Third, if compensation was awarded, was it paid or not? Let me initially state that we shouldn’t confuse apples with pears. The cases involving Greece that he referred to were not rulings in which individual measures were to be taken. That is, they were not instructions calling for release or such like. The rulings there did not involve individual measures.

Stating that, going by 2017 statistics, Turkey ranks second among countries having the most cases with the ECtHR, Kerem Altıparmak said, “The number of outstanding cases that Greece has currently not fully implemented is 305. The number of outstanding cases that Turkey has not implemented is 1446 and it ranks second after the Russian Federation, with 1689. That is, Turkey is in second place on the non-implementation list.”

WE ARE IN A MORE SERIOUS SITUATION THAN GREECE

Intimating that Turkey has five times more outstanding cases than Greece, Altıparmak said, “There are plenty of repeat cases on the non-implementation list. There have been numerous violations on the same issue and serial violation occurs as a result of non-implementation. When regarded from this viewpoint, there is a more serious situation than Greece. If he complains about the situation in Greece, there are nearly five times as many cases awaiting implementation in Turkey.”

THE SOLE COUNTRY NOT RECOGNIZING THE RIGHT OF CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION

Kerem Altıparmak listed examples of rulings that Turkey had not implemented as follows: “Given that he turns Greece into a problem, let us see conscientious objection being recognized. Turkey remains alone in not recognizing the right of ‘conscientious objection’. There are a whole host of rulings relating to conscientious objection. The Artun Güvener case is an example. There is a ruling on Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. Six thousand people annually are prosecuted for defaming the President. Go ahead with implementation and let Tukey cease to criminalize defamation of the President. Let it decriminalize paragraphs six and seven of Article 220 of the Turkish Penal Code, under which Demirtaş and the others are being prosecuted. There are rulings relating to all of these issued by the ECtHR. You are going to implement all these and then say, ‘There is also non-implementation by Greece.’ The number of non-implemented rulings by Germany is currently 18 and by France, 34. There are three countries in the Council of Europe whose cases number in excess of one thousand. Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.”

WHAT HAPPENED?

In the immediate aftermath of the ECtHR ruling calling for Demirtaş’s release, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said, “Rulings passed by the ECtHR are not binding on us. There are many things we can do in response to this. We will take our countersteps.” And Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, “There are many EU countries that fail to implement ECtHR rulings. For example, the inability of the Turkish minority in Greece to use Turkish names in association names, despite ECtHR rulings. Athens has not implemented this for ten years. Is anyone applying duress to Greece?”

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton