Istanbul - “When attending the Conference of Asian Constitutional Courts in Istanbul I was informed about statements by representatives of the executive harshly criticising the Constitutional Court of Turkey. This Court plays a crucial role to uphold the core values of the Council of Europe: the rule of law, democracy and human rights. Recent decisions of the Court have made an important contribution to strengthening the independence of the judiciary and freedom of expression in Turkey. Through these decisions the Court has shown its ability to effectively fulfil its constitutional role as an independent and impartial body defending the values enshrined in the Turkish Constitution.
The increased importance of the Constitutional Court of Turkey follows the constitutional reform of 2010 which was initiated by the government and endorsed by the Turkish people in a referendum. This new role of the Court opens the perspective that in the future Turkey will be able to solve most human rights issues domestically and will no longer be one of the countries found most often in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights by the Strasbourg Court. For this reason it is in the interest of Turkey that a national court provides effective protection of human rights and the rule of law.
I am therefore concerned about recent statements criticising the Court for exercising its constitutional functions. While courts are not exempt from public criticism and democratic debate, excessive criticism by holders of public office risks undermining their independence, and, in this specific case, jeopardising the important progress already made in Turkey. I therefore call on all public authorities and media to cease the attacks against the Constitutional Court and not to question its role as the independent and impartial organ of the state defending human rights and the rule of law.”