Research Project

The Impact of the Right to Individual Petition on Constitutional Interpretation, Interpretation of International Law and the Turkish Judicial System: A Comparative Analysis of the Judicial Patterns of the Turkish Constitutional Court Case-Law between 2012-2017

The Turkish Constitutional Court started accepting individual petitions for violations of fundamental rights and freedoms and delivering remedies to those whose rights were found to be violated on of 23 September 2012. According to Turkish Constitutional Court statistics, as of 23 September 2014, 26,642 applications have been lodged with the Court. At this date the Court had delivered 11,146 judgments comprising of decisions on join cases, administrative rejections, inadmissibility, admissibility, violation, striking out of the list and withdrawal decisions. Of all of these 267 were admissibility decisions. The Court delivered 6,460 admissibility decisions. 302 cases had been finalized with a violation judgment.

Across the literature on constitutional law and international law no systematic study has been carried out to date about the effects of this case law on constitutional interpretation, international law interpretation and on the Turkish judicial system. The Turkish Constitutional Court also awaits study from a comparative constitutional law perspective. Existing studies thus far have focused on the procedural aspects of the right to individual petition and interpretative analysis of the individual high profile judgments of the Turkish Constitutional Court. This project will be the first study that systematically analyses how the Court’s case law on the right to individual petition as a whole affects the content and scope of rights. The project will focus on the first five years of the right to individual petition in Turkey. (2012-2017)

The central research question of the project is as follows:

How have the judgments that the Turkish Constitutional Court has delivered between September 2012 and September 2017 affected the interpretation of the Constitution, international human rights law interpretation and the relations between the Constitutional Court and the Turkish judicial system?

The central research question is accompanied by the following sub questions:

1. What has been the effect of the right to individual petition case law on: a. legitimate limitations of fundamental rights and freedoms, and in turn qualified rights doctrines  (Article 13 of the Constitution)? b. the interpretation techniques of fundamental rights and freedoms? c. the interpretation of the core and scope of fundamental rights and freedoms?

2. How have he powers and the case law  of other courts have been effected by the right to individual petition case law? In particular, what has been the impact of this case law for the judicial dialogue between the Turkish Constitutional Court and other Apex Courts?

3. What kind of application does the novelties brought by the right to individual petition case law such as the direct effect doctrine of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the interim measures find in the practice of the Constitutional Court?

4. What kinds of consequences follow from the right to individual petition case law concerning the interpretation and application of international human rights law treaties ratified by Turkey beside the European Convention on Human Rights  and Fundamental Freedoms? Does the right to individual petition strengthen or weaken the protection of rights in other Council of Europe treaties or United Nations treaties ratified by Turkey?

5. In the light of the findings below, how should we evaluate the Turkish Constitutional Court within the comparative parameters set out in the comparative constitutional courts literature? What contribution does the Turkish case make to the literature on comparative constitutional courts as a case study?

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