In Flagrante Delicto and Procedural Safeguards for Judges: How Far Does the European Court of Human Rights Go with the Separation of Powers? (obs. ECtHR, 16 April 2019, Alparslan Altan v Turkey, N° 12778/17)

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This article explores the reasoning of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Alparslan Altan v Turkey, which concerns the procedural safeguards applicable to the removal of judges from judicial office.
In the aftermath of the declaration of a state of emergency in Turkey in 2016, M. Altan, who presided on
the Turkish Constitutional Court was arrested and taken into police custody without prior lifting of the
immunity afforded to judges under domestic law. In finding a violation of Article 5 (1) of the European
Convention on Human Rights, the Court emphasised, with explicit reference to the separation of powers in
democratic societies, the need to maintain, even during a state of emergency, the procedural safeguards
afforded to judges in order to ensure they effectively carry out their judicial duties. Alparslan Altan adds to
the evolution of the Court’s case law both on the separation of powers in general and on the separation
between the executive and the judiciary in Turkey.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages16
JournalEurope des Droits & Libertés/Europe of Rights & Liberties
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2020


  • Courts, separation of powers, judicial independence, in flagrante delicto, pre-trial detention, Article 5 (1) European Convention on Human Rights, Alparslan Altan v Turkey

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