Press Release No: Individual Application 32/21

Press Release concerning the Judgment Finding a Violation of the Right to Life due to the Failure to Investigate the Administration’s Fault as regards the Suicide Bomb Attack

On 27 January 2021, the Second Section of the Constitutional Court found a violation of the procedural aspect of the right to life safeguarded by Article 17 of the Constitution in the individual application lodged by Hasan Kılıç (no. 2018/22085).

The Facts

A meeting on peace, labour and democracy was organised by some non-governmental organisations having completed the necessary legal procedures. While the crowd gathering in front of the Ankara Train Station were preparing for the meeting, an attack was carried out by two suicide bombers subsequently identified to have been members of the DAESH terrorist organisation, as a result of which many people were killed and many people, including the applicant, were injured.

The applicant sought non-pecuniary compensation from the Ministry of Interior, alleging that the minimum security measures had not been taken before the meeting, that emergency health services had not been sufficiently provided to those who had been injured in the attack, that even the security forces intervened, by using tear gas, against the people who had tried to provide first aid to the injured people, and that the medical personnel had been delayed to the scene due to the said intervention of the security forces. Upon the tacit dismissal of the application, the applicant brought a full remedy action before the administrative court. The applicant also requested the collection of some evidence not available to him as regards the relevant allegations and submitted a copy of the preliminary examination report to the administrative court.

At the end of the administrative proceedings, the administrative court awarded 25,000 Turkish liras (TRY) to the applicant for non-pecuniary compensation, plus legal interest running from the date of lodging the action, within the scope of the social risk principle, stating that the impugned incident was an act of terrorism and that there had been no fault attributable to the administration as regards the performance of the administrative service. The regional court of appeal, having rejected the appeal requests of the applicant and the Ministry of Interior, upheld the administrative court’s decision.

The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant claimed that there had been a violation of the right to life, stating that in the proceedings he had brought for the redress of the damages he had sustained as a result of the suicide bomb attack, which he claimed to have been foreseeable and preventable by the public authorities, his allegations that the incident had occurred due to the fault of the administration had not been considered.

The Court’s Assessment

In the actions for compensation to be brought before the judicial and administrative courts in order to establish the legal responsibility in terms of the right to life, the requirements of reasonable promptness and due diligence must be fulfilled. In the same vein, it is incumbent on the Constitutional Court to examine whether the inferior courts made an examination as required by Article 17 of the Constitution in the proceedings concerning such incidents. As a matter of fact, the sensitivity on the part of the inferior courts in this regard would prevent any harm to the important role of the current judicial system in preventing similar future violations.

In the present case, the administrative court awarded non-pecuniary compensation to the applicant; however, it did not provide any justification to this end. Moreover, it could not be understood from the decision of the administrative court whether the evidence requested by the applicant had been collected and whether the administrative court had evaluated the evidence including those adduced by the applicant.

The applicant, with reference to the findings and evaluations in the preliminary examination report, raised, also before the regional court of appeal, his allegations that the respondent administration had failed to take the life-protecting measures in the incident and that the intervention of the security forces after the explosions worsened the consequences of the attack. However, the regional court of appeal upheld the administrative court’s decision, stating that it complied with the procedure and the law, but without explicitly examining the applicant’s allegations.

The full remedy action brought by the applicant was based on the alleged failure of the administration to fulfil its obligation to protect the life. In this regard, it is obvious that for resolution of the dispute, the necessary evidence should have been collected, as well as the applicant’s aforementioned allegations should have been examined. For this reason, it has been concluded that the inferior courts failed to examine the applicant’s case with due diligence as required by Article 17 of the Constitution.

Consequently, the Court has found a violation of the procedural aspect of the right to life.

This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.