Doc. 9754

31 March 2003

Implementation of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights by Turkey

Recommendation 1576 (2002)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 833rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (26 March 2003)

1.       The Committee can assure the Parliamentary Assembly that supervision of the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights is one of the Committee’s main priorities. Speedy and efficient execution is essential for the credibility and efficiency of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as a constitutional instrument of European public order on which the democratic stability of the Continent depends.

2.       The Committee welcomes the recent enhancement of Turkey's political determination to comply with the Court's judgments and, more generally, to meet the requirements of the ECHR and other Council of Europe's standards, as reflected in Prime Minister Gül’s statement to the Assembly at the January 2003 part-session. In this context, the Committee welcomes in particular the wide-ranging reforms which have been accomplished within a short time frame on such matters as the abolition of the death penalty, the lifting of certain restrictions on non-violent speech, the increased efforts to fight torture and ill-treatment not least through improved investigative procedures and more severe sanctions against members of the security forces responsible for abuses. The Committee also welcomes the programme recently agreed upon by Council of Europe experts and the Turkish authorities, within the framework of a Joint European Union/Council of Europe Initiative, providing for in-depth training of Turkish judges and prosecutors on the Convention and the Court's case-law, with a view to ensuring their effective implementation in day-to-day practice.

3.       The recent constitutional and legislative reforms, the ensuing evolution of domestic case-law, as well as the training and awareness measures represent important developments which will undoubtedly contribute significantly to the execution of a number of judgments concerning Turkey.

4.       In addition to the measures already adopted, the Committee has recently received assurances from the Turkish authorities that they intend rapidly to settle, in particular, the problems concerning the remaining restrictions on the applicants' civil and political rights in some 20 cases relating to violations of freedom of expression, and concerning shortfalls in payment of just satisfaction in some 40 cases. The Committee will continue its supervision of these matters, and indeed of all other outstanding issues.

5.       As regards the two specific cases mentioned in the Recommendation, the Committee can inform the Assembly as follows:

6.       Concerning the case of Sadak, Zana, Dicle and Doğan, Law No. 4793, which entered into force on 4 February 2003, allows domestic proceedings impugned by the Court to be reopened in all cases currently pending before the Committee for control of execution. The Committee welcomes the fact that, as a result of this new law, the criminal proceedings in the aforementioned case are to be reopened before the State Security Court of Ankara. The Committee nevertheless notes that the suspension of the execution of the original prison sentence of the applicants pending the new trial was not approved when the request to re-open proceedings was accepted. The Committee trusts that a new, fair trial will proceed expeditiously so as effectively to erase the consequences of the violations found by the Court. Furthermore the Committee notes that the scope of the new law would not extend to cases which are currently pending before the Court. It trusts that steps will rapidly be taken to modify this situation.

7.       As regards the Loizidou case, the Committee notes with satisfaction that the Assembly has supported its position, as expressed in three Interim Resolutions of the Committee of Ministers. The Committee recalls that it follows the case with the greatest attention and confirms its resolve to ensure, with all means available to the organisation, the execution of this judgment by Turkey. The Committee is presently exploring different avenues with a view to achieving this aim.

In this context, the Committee notes that the Turkish authorities have indicated, at recent Committee of Ministers meetings, their determination to comply with the Court's judgment of 28/07/98. The Committee expects to receive shortly information on concrete steps to this effect.

8.       The Committee, referring also to Prime Minister Gül’s recent expression of the Turkish authorities’ determination to comply with the judgments of the Court, expects that the momentum, as illustrated above, will be maintained so that all outstanding issues will be settled rapidly and all judgments complied with fully.

9.       On a more general level, the Committee would like to inform the Assembly that reflections are under way, both within the Committee itself and in the context, of the work on reinforcing the ECHR control system, designed to improve and speed up the execution of judgments. In this context, particular focus is being given to possible measures in the event of slow or negligent execution or non-execution of judgments. Relevant recommendations of the Assembly are being borne in mind in this regard. The Committee will keep the Assembly informed of progress in the reflections.