Ruling on jailed journalists in Turkey
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned Turkey over the jailing of two journalists. The plaintiffs Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay hope that this will pave the way for their permanent release because as a member of the Council of Europe Turkey is obliged to comply with the verdict. Commentators also hope that the ruling from Strasbourg marks a turning point.
Highly embarrassing for Turkey
The Turkish Constitutional Court had already ruled in January that the provisional detention of the two journalists was unlawful, and ordered their immediate release. After the AKP government criticised the decision, however, lower courts failed to comply with the decision. A shameful state of affairs, Hürriyet comments:
“Is this not incredibly sad? For 35 years it's been written in the constitution that the Constitutional Court's judgements are binding at all levels. But now we have to be reminded of this by the ECHR in Strasbourg! ... Such lapses come back at us like a boomerang from the Constitutional Court and at the very latest from the ECHR. For that reason in our country we should implement universal laws at first instance in the courts, we should correct violations of the law and restore trust in the courts - so that we don't have to go knocking at Strasbourg's door.”
Hopefully the start of a shift in thinking
The judges' reaction comes far too late, Jürgen Gottschlich, Turkey correspondent for taz newspaper, admonishes:
“Hundreds of complaints from Turkish journalists, teachers, academics and other jailed or fired public sector employees in Turkey have been piling up for months in Strasbourg. Even though the judges must have known that under the state of emergency the Turkish judiciary was at best a facade for the law, they referred the complainants back to Turkey's internal legal processes and left the victims of the repression in the lurch. We can only hope Tuesday's ruling marks the start of a shift in thinking. ... All European institutions in which Turkey wants to be an equal member, including Nato, should finally join forces and make it clear that the revocation of the state of emergency is a precondition for further cooperation.”