Another step enhancing the (procedural) protection for judges: Eminağaoğlu v Turkey and Bilgen v Turkey

Mathieu Leloup, PhD researcher in constitutional and administrative law at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, research group Government and Law

The protection of domestic judges has become something of a leitmotif in the European case law over the last few years. Hardly a month goes by without a judgment in which the ECtHR or the ECJ was asked to rule on something that pertained to the safeguarding of the domestic judiciary. Most often, the issue in question relates to the broader principle of judicial independence – ranging from appointment of judges, over judicial discipline, to judicial tenure. But it may just as well address more factual issues, like the detention of judges (for example, in Baş). In other cases still, the question is not so much a substantive issue, but rather relates to the procedural protection that judges may enjoy.

The cases that will be discussed here fall within the latter category. In two cases against Turkey, Eminağaoğlu and Bilgen, the Strasbourg Court has adopted a very flexible interpretation of the so-called Eskelinen-criteria and has expanded the right of access to a court that domestic judges enjoy under Article 6(1) ECHR. In doing so, this judgment can be seen as marking another step in an evolution that has been going on for a little bit over a decade now.

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