10th International Summer School Event Has Started
The 10th International Summer School event organised by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Türkiye, under the auspices of the Association of the Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions (AACC), has started today (21 September) with the opening ceremony held at the Constitutional Court.
In his inaugural speech, Mr. Zühtü Arslan, President of the Turkish Constitutional Court, expressed his satisfaction with the wide participation in the program and expressed that like the previous events, this program would also promote the cooperation and exchange of good practices among the courts.
“Interpretation of the Constitution is of vital importance.”
Stating that in a legal system, all decision-makers exercising public power constantly engaged in the interpretation of the Constitution, President Arslan stressed that any political, administrative or judicial decision was directly or indirectly based on the interpretation of the Constitution as well as the laws, that these interpretations might sometimes conflict with each other, and that in such cases, it was for the constitutional courts to determine the authentic interpretation in the final instance.
President Arslan, expressing that the interpretation was decisive both in the constitutionality review cases and in individual applications, stated that in conducting the constitutionality review of provisions, the constitutional courts determined, both the meaning as well as the scope of the provision under review and the meaning of the constitutional provisions referred to as the binding rules.
“Rights-based approach is predicated upon the assumption that freedom is essential, whereas limitation is an exception”
President Arslan noted that the Turkish Constitutional Court had stated in its many decisions that the approach that should predominate over the constitutional jurisdiction was the rights-based paradigm. President Arslan continued “Rights-based approach predicated upon the assumption that freedom is essential, whereas limitation is an exception. This approach necessitates that the Constitution be interpreted in favour of the freedoms, by attaching priority to fundamental rights. As a matter of fact, as a repercussion of this approach, the Court has reiterated that the duty incumbent on the State in democracies is to protect and improve fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as to take measures that would secure the effective exercise thereof.”
“One of the most challenging aspects of the constitutional interpretation is the conflicting fundamental rights”
Indicating that the one of the most challenging aspects of the constitutional interpretation was the conflicting fundamental rights, President Arslan noted that the Turkish Constitutional Court endeavoured to strike a balance between the conflicting rights and interests not in an abstract manner, but under the particular circumstances of every individual case. He further stated that in striking a balance -for instance- between, on the one hand, the freedom of expression and, on the other the right to honour and dignity, the Constitutional Court took into consideration the nature of the impugned expressions, the questions whether these expressions had a factual basis and contributed to a public debate, the identity of the person using the impugned expressions, the questions whether the addressee was a public figure and had the opportunity to respond to the impugned expressions against him, as well as whether the limits of acceptable criticism to which the addressee was subject should be wider than those of an ordinary citizen.
President Arslan expressed his gratitude to the delegations who attended the event and would deliver presentations during the academic program where the approaches adopted, by the Turkish Constitutional Court and the other constitutional courts/equivalent institutions, in interpreting the constitution for the protection of fundamental rights would be discussed. He also wished that the Summer School event be successful and fruitful.
The activities within the scope of the 10th Summer School event is scheduled to cover 21-23 September.
Click for the full text of the speech delivered by President Zühtü Arslan.