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State’s Obligation to Protect the Right to Live

Interpretation of the Constitutional Court’s 26.07.2022 Dated Decision


State’s Obligation to Protect the Right to Live in Extent of Constitutional Court’s Decision Dated 26.07.2022


The decision of the Constitutional Court, dated 26.07.2022 and numbered case numbered was published in the Official Gazette dated 06.10.2022 and numbered 31975.


The Case Subject of the Individual Application and its Scope


The incident subject to the individual application is related to the claim that the right to life was violated due to the death caused by the derailment of a passenger train on 22.7.2004.


The Constitutional Court ruled that the procedural aspect of the right to life was violated in the previous individual application of the applicants with the complaint that the criminal proceedings regarding the same incident were not concluded within a reasonable time.


The case subject of the application concerns the claim that the decision to dismiss the public cases against all defendants due to the statute of limitations, which was issued approximately 1 year and 2 months after the date of the aforementioned violation decision, once again violated the obligation to conduct an effective investigation.


The Constitutional Court's Evaluation of the Case


The Constitutional Court referred to the expert committee report dedicated to the relevant case and stated that half (4/8) of the fault was determined for the train engineers and half (4/8) of the fault was determined for the relevant public officials for the inadequacy of the superstructure and the failure of the technical equipment.

The Constitutional Court determined the following issues:

  • The fact that the public case against the train engineers was overturned on procedural grounds and the public case against those concerned was dismissed due to the statute of limitations resulted in the failure to punish those concerned,

  • The inadequacies in the superstructure of the railway, the lack of an effective investigation against public officials who were at fault in providing and supervising the technical equipment, and the absence of any criminal case against them, resulted in the failure to punish those concerned.

The State's Obligation to Protect the Right to Life


The Constitutional Court held that the state failed to take necessary and adequate measures within the scope of its positive obligation to eliminate the risks to the life and physical integrity of persons arising from a dangerous activity such as railway transportation.


The Court also held that the judicial authorities involved in the criminal proceedings did not make a determination of liability based on the causes of the accident, which were described in the expert report as the physical adequacy, maintenance, and repair of the railway track and the lack of technical systems; and that there was no one whose criminal liability was definitively decided by the judicial bodies, although they were found to be at fault by the expert reports.


The Court held that the applicants' right to life was violated for the reasons mentioned above.


Conclusion


The Constitutional Court ruled that the applicants' right to life was violated as a result of the state's failure to fulfill its positive obligation against the right to life of the individuals and the fact that none of the relevant persons, whose faults were determined in the expert report, were punished, and in this context, the Constitutional Court ruled that the applicants be paid non-pecuniary damages separately.


Muhammed DOGAN

Alp SATIBESE

Translated by Doga Demirel & Deniz Karaduman

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