(Dec. 31, 2009) It was reported on December 29, 2009, Turkey's Council of State has ruled against a law that would have permitted the Justice Ministry to wiretap judges and prosecutors. The decision of the Council was unanimous and applied to article 98 of the regulation that establishes the responsibilities and methodology of the Turkish Justice Ministry's Supervisory Board. Originally, the statute had authorized the auditors of the Ministry to order the taps. (Council of State Rules Against Wiretapping of Jurists by Inspectors, ANATOLIA (Ankara), Dec. 29, 2009, World News Connection online subscription database, No. 200912291477.1_c57b0025bb89f6c5.)
The decision stated that wiretaps for the collection of information could only be authorized for criminal investigations or if permitted specifically by law. The decision referred to provisions on freedom and confidentiality of communications in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. (Id.) It as also referred to article 22 of the Turkish Constitution, which states in part:
Everyone has the right to freedom of communication.
Secrecy of communication is fundamental.
Unless there exists a decision duly passed by a judge on one or several of the grounds of national security, public order, prevention of crime commitment, protection of public health and public morals, or protection of the rights and freedoms of others, or unless there exists a written order of an agency authorised [sic] by law in cases where delay is prejudicial, again on the above-mentioned grounds, communication shall not be impeded nor its secrecy be violated. (The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey [in English], Hellenic Resources Net website, http://www.hri.org/docs/turkey/part_ii_2.html#article_39 (last visited Dec. 29, 2009).)