European court condemns Turkey

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Turkey for violating the rights of former Virtue Party (FP) deputies Merve Safa Kavakçý, Nazlý Ilýcak and Mehmet Sýlay.

European court condemns Turkey

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Turkeyfor violating the rights of former Virtue Party (FP) deputies Merve SafaKavakçý, Nazlý Ilýcak and Mehmet Sýlay.

The court viewed the decision that instituted a ban on the former FPdeputies from involvement in political activities for five years as contrary toright to free election outlined in the Additional Protocol to the EuropeanConvention on Human Rights. The Strasbourg Court also decided that Kavakçý, Ilýcak and Sýlaybe compensated 4,000, 5,000 and 3,000 euros respectively.

Commenting on the decision, Ilýcak said she found the ruling satisfactory,while Kavakçý said she did not see it as a personal gain. "It is a gain on thepart of those who suffered only because they wore headscarves," she explained.

Kavakçý, currently living in the US, said the ruling helped make thepoint that headscarved mothers cannot be forced to stay outside a universitycampus while their daughters and sons celebrate their graduation. This rulingalso demonstrated that even covered women can become deputies and enter theTurkish Parliament, said Kavakçý.

In its judgment the European court, while agreeing that Turkey's Constitutional Courthad the right to close political parties threatening the principle ofsecularism, stressed that it found the ban imposed on the elected deputiescontrary to the convention's provisions. With reference to the previous caselaw on former People's Democracy Party (HADEP) deputy Selim Sadak, the Europeancourt noted that the five-year ban was excessive and drew attention to thecontradiction that while the vice presidents of the FP were still able toengage in political activities, Kavakçý and Ilýcak were banned from enjoyingthe same right. In the unanimous decision taken by the seven-judge panel,Turkish judge Rýza Türmen held the same view and contended that the rights ofMerve Kavakçý were violated. 

'Party may be closed to protect secularism'

The recent decision is also important for its content on the FP case whichwas withdrawn by Saadet (happiness or contentment) Party (SP) leader RecaiKutan. The European court made no criticism on the closure of the party by theTurkish court. Recalling that the FP was closed because it was a menace to thesecular regime, the European court noted that Turkey's Constitutional Court was entitled to closethe parties that jeopardize the viability of the constitutional order.

The decision noted that the domestic restrictions were imposed to protectthe secular characteristics of the Turkish political regime and ruled that therestrictive measures should be viewed as means of self defense of theestablished regime. SP leader Recai Kutan withdrew the complaint following theEuropean court ruling that confirmed the headscarf ban in its Leyla Þahindecision on grounds that the court was acting with a double-standard.

At the hearing held in Strasbourg on Oct. 13,2005, Merve Kavakçý asserted that the decision to close the FP wasanti-democratic and the political ban imposed on her targeted allheadscarf-wearing women in Turkey.Counsels for the Turkish government, drawing attention to the substantialreforms that expanded the sphere of fundamental rights and freedoms, stressedthat closing a political party had become much more difficult since theintroduction of the reforms.

 Today's Zaman

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16