By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Veteran Turkish journalist Sedat Ergin wrote in Hurriyet newspaper that “Turkey is the champion of rights violations at the European Court of Human Rights” (ECHR). The European Court rules on cases when signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights violate its provisions.Even though Turkey joined the Court in 1986, 27 years after its founding, it had more violations than all other member countries between 1959 and 2016.The European Court had a total of 3,270 judgments on Turkey. Only in 73 cases, Turkey was found by the Court not to have made any violations. The remaining cases were settled in other ways. Since more than one article was violated in most cases, Turkey’s violations total 4,514.The 2016 Annual Report of the European Court of Human Rights indicated that:— The highest number of Turkish violations (832) was in the area of “right to a fair trial.”— The 2nd highest category (707 violations) was “the right to freedom and security.” This latter category means that “Turkish citizens are frequently arrested using unlawful methods and that those arrests can easily turn into sentences,” according to Ergin.— The 3rd highest category of violations (653) is the “right to property protection,” which means that many Turkish citizens are deprived of ownership of their properties.— The 4th highest category (586) is the violation of “length of proceedings.”— “Lack of effective investigation” comes in 5th place with 412 violations.— “Inhuman or degrading treatment” is in 6th place with 314 violations.— In 7th place is the “right to an effective remedy” (268 violations).— “Freedom of Expression” comes in 8th place (265 violations).— In 9th place are 133 violations of the “right to life — deprivation of life.”— In 10th place are 100 violations of the “right to respect private and family life.”Regarding Azerbaijan, from 2002 to 2016, the European Court of Human Rights had 122 judgments, of which 118 were found to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, far fewer than Turkey, since Baku joined the ECHR much later, in 2002. The remaining 4 cases were settled in other ways. Since some cases had more than one violation, Azerbaijan had a total of 224 rights violations.— The highest number of violations (44) was the “right to a fair trial.”— The 2nd highest violation (34) was the “right to liberty and security.”— The 3rd highest violation (30) was the “protection of property.”— The 4th highest violation (21) was the “right to free elections.”— “Lack of effective investigation” was the 5th highest violation (17).Armenia, on the other hand, which joined the European Convention on Human Rights at the same time as Azerbaijan (2002), had fewer violations. There were 75 judgments by the ECHR against Armenia between 2002 and 2016, of which 68 were violations. The remaining 7 cases were settled in other ways. Since some of cases had more than one violation, Armenia had a total of 119 violations.— The highest number of violations (32) was the “right to a fair trial.”— The 2nd highest number of violations (27) was the “right to liberty and security.”— The 3rd highest number of violations (16) was the “protection of property.”Neighboring Georgia had a slightly fewer violations than Armenia. It joined the European Convention on Human Rights in 1999. Between 1999 and 2016 the ECHR had 68 judgments on Georgia, of which 52 were violations. The remaining 16 cases were settled in other ways. Since some of the cases had more than one violation, Georgia had a total of 99 violations.— The highest number of violations (20) was the “right to liberty and security.”— The 2nd highest number of violations (17) was “inhuman or degrading treatment.”— There was a tie for the 3rd highest violation (12 each) for “lack of effective investigation” and “right to a fair trial.”In addition to the above-mentioned violations, Turkey and Azerbaijan have much more serious problems with the ECHR. Turkey decided to suspend the European Convention on Human Rights following the attempted coup of July 2016. However, some parts of the Convention cannot be suspended, such as the right to life, and the ban on torture and the inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.Azerbaijan faces another serious problem with the ECHR which had ruled that prominent Azeri opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov should be released from jail. Azerbaijan has refused to comply with ECHR’s decision since 2014. The Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have adopted several resolutions urging Azerbaijan to release Mammadov. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has initiated an unprecedented judicial review of Azerbaijan’s lack of compliance with the ECHR ruling. Further non-compliance by Azerbaijan could result in its expulsion from the Council of Europe!