President's Speeches

President's Speeches

Message by Mr. Zühtü Arslan, President of the Constitutional Court, on the occasion of the 59th Anniversary of the Constitutional Court

“By the date of 25 April, the Turkish Constitutional Court (the Court) is celebrating its 59th anniversary. As in the last year, we have had to unfortunately postpone the ceremony to be held on the occasion of the anniversary of the Constitutional Court, a traditional ceremony held annually, and the activities to be performed in this framework, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope we will get over the pandemic affecting all of us for so long in the forthcoming months and thereby have the opportunity to hold the postponed events.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to note that the political regime brought along by the ‘contemporary civilisation’, a notion pointed out by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, and enshrined in the Constitution, is constitutional democracy. It is known that the constitutional democracy, depicted as ‘liberal democracy’ in the Preamble of the Constitution, envisages a legal order where those who hold office through free elections exercise the administrative power, on one hand, and this power is subject to limitation for the protection of the individuals’ fundamental rights and freedoms, on the other.

Democracy entails the existence of the rules and institutions affording the best protection for the fundamental rights and freedoms. As is known, notably in Europe, the constitutional courts emerged as a reaction to the systematic right violations taking place between and during the two world wars. Therefore, the constitutional courts, the raison d’être of which is to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms, have become one of the indispensable elements of the constitutional democracy.

Among the courts with the highest experience in the field of constitutional jurisdiction in the world, the Court is also struggling, within the framework of the duties and powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, to materialise the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution and to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms. It should be noted that the Court pursues its rights-oriented approach in a determined way, as a requisite for protecting and improving the constitutional rights and freedoms.

The Court has faced with a heavy workload that could not be compared with those of other constitutional courts with similar jurisdictions. I would like to share some statistics demonstrating the heavy workload especially regarding individual applications. The Court adjudicated approximately 45,000 applications in 2020. It should be noted with satisfaction that the ratio of the adjudicated applications continuously increased in 2020 despite the ongoing pandemic and reached the level of 112 percent. However, it should be noted that the number of individual applications has been gradually increasing, that over 17,000 applications have been received before the end of the first four months of 2021, and that hence the number of pending applications is nearly 46,000.

It should be underlined once again that the purpose of the individual application mechanism is not to redress each violation of rights, but to eliminate the reasons leading to violations. In this scope, it is necessary to revise our legal system in a way that will strengthen fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the right to a fair trial, and ensure their exercise in a more secured manner.

The Court has made considerable contributions to the protection, and raising the standards, of fundamental rights and freedoms through a rights-oriented approach it has adopted in the cases of both individual application and constitutionality review. In short, the Court endeavours to fulfil, in the best manner, its duty to protect the democratic state of law and the fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens, despite all the difficulties.

On the occasion of the anniversary of the Constitutional Court, I would like to express my thanks to all my colleagues, especially vice-presidents and justices, who work devotedly. I would like to commemorate our late and retired justices and personnel. I also wish good health and prosperity to all members of the Court.

Of course, we cannot forget the real heroes of the period of pandemic. I would like to express my gratitude to all our healthcare professionals who have worked devotedly from the very beginning of the period and to everyone who have contributed to the fight against the pandemic.

In the hope of meeting in healthier days, I would like to congratulate the 59th Anniversary of the Constitutional Court and extend everyone all my most sincere and respectful greetings.” 26/4/2021

Prof. Dr. Zühtü ARSLAN
Constitutional Court of the Republic of Türkiye