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Legal reforms to tackle delays in getting justice

Ormanci and Others v. Turkey  | 2004

Legal reforms to tackle delays in getting justice

Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time...

Extract from Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Background

Hundreds of applicants from Turkey brought cases to the European Court of Human Rights complaining about excessively long proceedings in the Turkish courts.

One of the applicants was Fatma Ormancı. Her husband was killed in 1991, when terrorists raided the village of Kahramanmaraş and killed all of the male inhabitants.

Along with the dead man’s children, Mrs Ormancı brought a case against the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They claimed that the State had breached its responsibility to protect the life and security of its citizens.

The claimants won the case. However, it took almost six years for the courts to deal with the claim.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

In the Ormancı case, the Strasbourg court ruled that the claim had not been particularly complex, and the case had been of considerable importance to the applicants. In the circumstances, the proceedings had lasted too long. The delays had violated the applicants’ right to have their case examined in a reasonable time.

The court had found that applicants in over 280 other cases also faced excessively long delays in Turkish legal proceedings.

Follow-up

A series of major changes speeded up litigation in the Turkish judicial system. Reforms included streamlining procedures, simplifying rules and reorganising the Court of Cassation. The reforms affected the administrative, civil, criminal, labour, land registry, military, commercial and consumers’ courts.