The case concerned a disciplinary measure taken against a teacher, who held office in a union, for taking part in a panel discussion organized by a political party.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found in particular that the reprimand imposed on Ismail Sezer constituted a disproportionate restriction of his freedom of association as guaranteed by Article 11.
On 7 April 2006 a political party (Democratic Society Party, DTP) invited the trade union of which Sezer was the local branch officer to participate in a panel discussion on the theme “Turkey’s problems and the means of finding a solution”.
Local authorities issued a condemnation against İsmail Sezer.
“His capacity as a citizen…”
Sezer appealed against this decision to the Kirklareli prefect, arguing, among other points, that he had attended the panel discussion in his capacity as a citizen and an officer of the local branch of his trade union, and not as a civil servant, and that he had refrained from expressing any opinion whatsoever on that occasion.
On 28 May 2007 his appeal was dismissed by the prefect, who found no grounds on which to annul the sanction.
ECHR: It dissuades union freedom
“To impose such a sanction could have the effect of dissuading Mr Sezer or other union members from taking part in events to defend their members’ interests, and this, in the Court’s view, would considerably reduce the possibilities for the effective exercise of the right to freedom of association,” the verdict cited.
Lack of procedural safeguards
The Court further reiterated that Article 13 guaranteed the existence in domestic law of a remedy by which to seek the protection of Convention rights and freedoms. Where this consisted of an appeal to a non-judicial body, the Court would verify its independence and the procedural safeguards available to the applicant. In the present case, the only remedy open to Mr Sezer had been an administrative appeal to a higher authority, and that did not afford him such safeguards.
The Court also found that there had been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention.
Turkey was ordered to pay 3,500 euros for damages including court damages. (EÖ/BM)
* Click here to read the article in Turkish.
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