Okyay and others v Turkey (ECHR application No 36220/97)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a judgement in the case of Okyay and others v Turkey (application No 36220/97) on 12 July 2005.

The case concerned a failure by the national authorities of Turkey to implement an order of their domestic court, closing down three thermal-power plants which were polluting the environment in south-west Turkey.

The application was raised by three lawyers in Turkey, who lived within 250 kilometres of a site of a number of power plants, who argued that they had a constitutional right to live in a healthy and balanced environment.

An interlocutory injunction was issued by the Aydin Administrative Court in June 1996, suspending the power plants’ operation and ruling that the previous administrative decision refusing to halt the plants’ operations had been unlawful.

However the national authorities failed to implement the administrative courts’ judgements, and on the basis of this, the applicants alleged that their right to a fair trial under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights had been breached.

While the Turkish Government argued that Article 6(1) was not applicable to the case, there being no connection between the impugned power plants’ conditions of operation and the alleged infringement of the applicants’ civil rights, the Court emphasised that the execution of a judgement given by a court is to be regarded as an integral part of the “trial” for the purposes of Article 6 of the Convention.

The Court therefore held there to be a violation of Article 6(1) of the Convention as the national authorities had failed to comply in practice and within a reasonable time with the judgements of the Aydin Administrative Court, which suspended the activities of the three thermal power plants and on the contrary a decision had been passed permitting the power plants to continue to be operational.

The full judgement can be found at www.echr.coe.int.

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