Turkey’s track record with the European Court of Human Rights, By Lisa Reppell
The Turkish public is no stranger to the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. At regular intervals, the Strasbourg court hands down a judgment sufficiently salient in the domestic political context to make headlines and spark analysis from social commentators and political actors. But what do these judgments reveal about the health of Turkey’s justice system when they are looked at as part of a continuous narrative instead of episodically? As isolated events condensed into headlines, the judgments handed down by the court can seem to shine a spotlight on Turkey’s most sensitive societal cleavages -- the legitimacy of Turkey’s intervention in Cyprus, the rights of religious minorities and the repercussions of decades of violence in the Kurdish southeast to name only a few. Tracking the progression of Turkey’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is also a means for tracking the development of human rights norms in the country. Institutions and perceptions in Turkey have altered to accommodate an evolving relationship with the Strasbourg court. The most recent and significant alteration is a 2012 shift towards increased domestic responsibility for human rights rulings by the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC).
This report will briefly sketch Turkey’s history with the ECtHR before examining the implications of Turkey’s record at the court and detailing their compliance efforts. The final section will examine the still-unfolding implications of the 2012 change that enabled the TCC to rule on individual human rights applications, looking at