President of the Turkish Constitutional Court Mr. Zühtü Arslan, indicating that the primary duty of the courts throughout the world was to secure the justice, noted that “It is a vital mission, as it is the justice itself that ensures and maintains balance within the individual, social and political life. Therefore, in almost every society throughout the history, justice has been regarded as the raison d’être of the State –organised form of the society– on one hand, and the condition sine qua non for its continued existence, on the other.”.
The Constitutional Court held an official ceremony in the Grand Tribunal Hall on the occasion of its 60th anniversary.
Among those who attended the ceremony were President of the Republic of Turkey Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vice President Mr. Fuat Oktay, Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Mr. Mustafa Şentop, Chairperson of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Chairperson of the Good Party (İYİ Party) Ms. Meral Akşener, President of the Court of Cassation Mr. Mehmet Akarca, President of the Council of State Mr. Zeki Yiğit, Minister of Justice Mr. Bekir Bozdağ and members of the high judicial bodies.
At the conference attended by the chairmen and justices of regional human rights tribunals from all over the world, the representatives of international institutions, and presidents and justices of constitutional courts/councils of 26 countries, President Mr. Zühtü Arslan and Vice-Presidents Mr. Hasan Tahsin Gökcan and Mr. Kadir Özkaya welcomed the guests in the foyer.
In his opening speech at the ceremony, President Arslan, stressing that the primary duty of the courts throughout the world was to secure the justice, stated “It is a vital mission, as it is the justice itself that ensures and maintains balance within the individual, social and political life. Therefore, in almost every society throughout the history, justice has been regarded as the raison d’être of the State –organised form of the society– on one hand, and the condition sine qua non for its continued existence, on the other.
Justice is not a matter of rhetoric, but of a practice
Pointing out that justice was a virtue that cannot be easily realised and that as the most eminent virtue, justice was not a matter of rhetoric, but of a practice, President Arslan expressed “what should be achieved is to ensure the implementation of justice, but also in an apparent way, rather than to merely make mention of it. The proper and effective administration of justice in an apparent way will reinforce the public trust and confidence in the State, especially in the judiciary, vested with the authority to dispense justice.”.
In practice, justice is the accordance and assurance of a given right
President Arslan, defining justice as the accordance and assurance of a given right, noted “The secure of justice requires power, and legitimacy of power may be ensured through justice. Therefore, justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.”.
President Arslan emphasised that the mere existence of constitutional courts would not suffice for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and accordingly added that an effective and functional constitutional jurisdiction was dependent on the fulfilment of two essential conditions, namely external and internal.
In this sense, President Arslan stated “The external condition is the predominance of the principle of separation of powers in the constitutional system. This principle is predicated on the idea that in cases where the State’s powers are not divided into separate branches, the protection of rights and freedoms will become impossible. The internal condition of an effective constitutional jurisdiction requires that the constitutional courts embrace a rights-based paradigm.”.
The period predominated by the rights-based paradigm
President Arslan, stating that the date when the individual application mechanism was put into force, namely 23 September 2012, was considered as a constitutional milestone and that the Court’s history might be classified into two periods such as the first 50 years and the last 10 years, and indicating that the second period started with the introduction of the individual application mechanism through the constitutional amendment of 2010, added “Classifying the second period as the period when the rights-based paradigm has predominated is in keeping also with the will of the constitution-maker establishing the individual application mechanism. The Court has undergone an evident paradigm change with the introduction of individual application mechanism and thereby undertaken a mission that protects and improves fundamental rights and freedoms by adopting a rights-based approach.”
In his speech, President Arslan underlined that in endeavoring to protect fundamental rights and freedoms, the Constitutional Court did not set aside the security concern and struck a delicate balance notably between public safety and freedoms.
Liberal Interpretation of the Principle of Secularism
President Arslan, expressing that the paradigm transformation in the Turkish constitutional jurisdiction started with the liberal interpretation of the principle of secularism, stated that with its decision rendered on 20 September 2012, the Court “abandoned its understanding of positivist secularism which had a function that rather justified the prohibitions; instead preferred a more flexible and liberal interpretation of secularism safeguarding freedom of religion and conscience.”
Division of functions and cooperation
Also pointing out the workload of the Court, President Arslan noted that the most efficient way to reduce this heavy workload was to eliminate the source of the violations. Indicating the importance of the maintenance of fundamental rights and freedoms, which was as important as themselves, ended his speech with his words “division of functions and cooperation will also facilitate getting closer to the goal of exceeding the level of contemporary civilization, which was pointed out by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and which is specified in the Constitution.”
“Constitutional History Gallery” was opened
After the ceremony, “Constitutional History Gallery” established in the premises of the Court on the occasion of its anniversary was opened by President of the Republic Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Constitutional Court Mr. Zühtü Arslan and other distinguished participants.
Symposium on “Interpretation of the Constitution in the Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms”
The 1st session of the Symposium organized as part of the events held on the occasion of 60th anniversary, themed “The Role of Interpretation in Determination of the Scope of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms”, which was moderated by President of the Court of Cassation Mr. Mehmet Akarca was held.
The first day of the Symposium ended with the award of plaques to the participants delivering presentations at the first session as well as gifts to the representatives of constitutional/supreme courts from 26 countries by President of the Constitutional Court Mr. Zühtü Arslan.