United Communist Party of Turkey and Others v Turkey, 30 January 1998 [ECtHR]

Case no 19392/92

58. Admittedly, it cannot be ruled out that a party’s political programme may conceal objectives and intentions different from the ones it proclaims. To verify that it does not, the content of the programme must be compared with the party’s actions and the positions it defends. In the present case, the TBKP’s programme could hardly have been belied by any practical action it took, since it was dissolved immediately after being formed and accordingly did not even have time to take any action. It was thus penalised for conduct relating solely to the exercise of freedom of expression.

59. The Court is also prepared to take into account the background of cases before it, in particular the difficulties associated with the fight against terrorism (see, among other authorities, the Ireland v. the United Kingdom judgment cited above, pp. 9 et seq., §§ 11 et seq., and the Aksoy v. Turkey judgment of 18 December 1996, Reports 1996-VI, pp. 2281 and 2284, §§ 70 and 84). In the present case, however, it finds no evidence to enable it to conclude, in the absence of any activity by the TBKP, that the party bore any responsibility for the problems which terrorism poses in Turkey.

60. Nor is there any need to bring Article 17 into play as nothing in the constitution and programme of the TBKP warrants the conclusion that it relied on the Convention to engage in activity or perform acts aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth in it (see, mutatis mutandis, the Lawless v. Ireland judgment of 1 July 1961 (merits), Series A no. 3, pp. 45–46, § 7).

61. Regard being had to all the above, a measure as drastic as the immediate and permanent dissolution of the TBKP, ordered before its activities had even started and coupled with a ban barring its leaders from discharging any other political responsibility, is disproportionate to the aim pursued and consequently unnecessary in a democratic society. It follows that the measure infringed Article 11 of the Convention.

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Formation Criminal convictions Public officials Conviction Impediments to formation Consequence of dissolution Insufficient numbers Nationality