Capacities to be Enjoyed by Non-Governmental Organizations

Freedom and Democracy Party (ÖZDEP) v Turkey, 8 December 1999 [ECtHR]

Case no 23885/94

22.  The Government maintained before the Court that ÖZDEP could not be regarded as a victim of the dissolution complained of as it had been dissolved voluntarily on 30 April 1993, well before 14 July 1993 when the Constitutional Court had ordered its dissolution. The Constitutional Court had made that order, notwithstanding the voluntary dissolution, to prevent the party leadership from forming a new party with the same name and status. Had ÖZDEP’s leaders lodged their application before the Court in their own name, too, then they could have claimed to have been victims of the dissolution; but they had not done so. (...)

26.  As to the merits of the objection, the Court accepts that ÖZDEP’s leaders resolved to dissolve their party in the hope of avoiding certain effects of a dissolution by the Constitutional Court, in their case a ban on their holding any similar office in any other political body (see section 95 of the Law on the regulation of political parties – paragraph 16 above). That explanation is supported by section 108 of the Law on the regulation of political parties which, by providing that voluntarily dissolved political parties continue to exist for the purposes of dissolution by the Constitutional Court, is intended to ensure that they are subject to all the effects of the latter form of dissolution (see paragraph 16 above). Thus the decision of ÖZDEP’s leaders to dissolve the party was not made freely, as the decisions of leaders and members of associations should be if they are to be recognised under Article 11.

In addition, as the Court has already noted, section 108 of the Law on the regulation of political parties provides “[a] resolution by the competent body of a political party dissolving that party after an application for its dissolution has been lodged shall not prevent the proceedings before the Constitutional Court continuing or deprive any dissolution order that is made of its legal effects”. It therefore follows that as domestic law provides that a voluntarily dissolved political party remains in existence for the purposes of dissolution by the Constitutional Court, the Government cannot contend before the Court that ÖZDEP was no longer in existence when the dissolution order was made (see, mutatis mutandis, the Kolompar v. Belgium judgment of 24 September 1992, Series A no. 235-C, p. 54, § 32, and the Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v. Ireland judgment of 29 October 1992, Series A no. 246-A, p. 22, § 42).

Consequently, the Government’s preliminary objection must be dismissed.

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