Turkey: The National Judiciary Informatics System (Ulusal Yargi Ağı Bilişim Sistemi, UYAP), including components, access by citizens and lawyers; arrest warrants and court decisions, including access to such documents on UYAP, who has the authority to issue such documents, and appearance of the documents (2016-November 2018) [TUR106217.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. UYAP
1.1 Overview

According to a 2008 report on the UYAP system [1], the Turkish Ministry of Justice began to implement the UYAP in 2004 (Hunter 17 Oct. 2008, 2). According to the UYAP website, the UYAP is an "e-justice system … developed in order to ensure [a] fast, reliable, soundly operated and accurate judicial system" (Turkey n.d.). According to a report by Seda Kalem Berk [2] on access to justice in Turkey, the UYAP allows the carrying out of "various judicial activities online such as filing or following a case or exchanging of legal information and documents between the judiciary and other public institutions like the law enforcement or the land registry" (Kalem Berk Oct. 2011, 40).

The UYAP website indicates that the UYAP is a "central network project" that integrates "all of the courts, public prosecutors services, prisons, other judicial institutions and other government departments in Turkey" (Turkey n.d.). According to the same source, the UYAP can also "be connected to the databases of" other countries with the aim of "secure and swift transition of international requests such as rogatory letters, extradition matters and transfer of sentenced persons" (Turkey n.d.).

A list of institutions integrated to the UYAP, provided in the answers submitted in 2012 by Turkish authorities about the preparedness of UYAP for the pilot phase of the e-Justice Communication via Online Data Exchange (e-CODEX), a project funded by the European Commission (EC) that "aims to improve European cross-border access to justice for citizens and businesses as well as the interoperability between legal authorities within the EU" (EU 24 Sept. 2014, 7), is attached to this Response.

1.2 Components
1.2.1 Lawyer and Citizen Portals

The UYAP website indicates that

[l]awyers and citizens can examine all their files, deposit their case fee, submit any document or claim and file a case to any court of Turkey through the Internet by using their e-signature. They can access and examine their case information via the Internet and learn the day fixed for the trial without going to courts. (Turkey n.d.)

Information on the procedure for citizens and lawyers to obtain an e-signature could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

A Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) [3] document indicates that, according to Turkish authorities, parties in a trial and their lawyers cannot access "protected documents or information" related to their cases, but rather can only see those documents to which they are permitted access (Council of Europe 27 Jan. 2011).

1.2.2 SMS [Short Message Service] Information System

According to the UYAP website, the SMS Information System sends notifications in a text message format to citizens and lawyers related to their cases, such as regarding "ongoing cases, dates of court hearings, the [latest] change in the case and suits or dept [sic] claims against them" (Turkey n.d.). The source states that the subscription fee for the SMS service is lower than the cost to take public transportation to go to a court in person (Turkey n.d.).

1.2.3 Decision Support System

The UYAP website indicates that, throughout a judicial procedure, the Decision Support System "may suggest some proposals to the users" when they make requests, in order to "prevent procedural errors" (Turkey n.d.). According to the same source, the Decision Support System also issues warnings in a pop-up format on the computer screen if "any fugitives' data is entered [in]to the system," which has made it possible to apprehend "many fugitives" (Turkey n.d.).

1.2.4 Document Management System (DMS)

The UYAP website indicates that the DMS facilitates the electronic exchange of data, information and documents between the Ministry of Justice and other "units," and that the exchange of "electronic documents between the provinces and centre has been started" (Turkey n.d.). Similarly, Seda Kalem Berk indicates that the DMS allows the electronic exchange of "official correspondence and electronic archiving of official documents" (Kalem Berk 2011, 41).

1.3 Electronic Signature

According to answers submitted by Turkish authorities for the pilot phase of e-CODEX, all users, including officials, judges and prosecutors, access the UYAP by using an e-signature and "[u]nauthorized access is not permitted" (EU 30 July 2012, 126-127). Additional information on the e-signature could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

1.4 Document Standardization

According to the UYAP website, "[a]ll documents, processes and files are standardised" (Turkey n.d.). The same source explains that judiciary documents are generated from a template, without staff having to write them one by one, and that data is added automatically into documents, such as instructions, indictments, hearing minutes, and decisions (Turkey n.d.).

2. Arrest Warrants

The information in this section was provided in correspondence with the Research Directorate by an Ankara-based attorney at law whose areas of practice include criminal law:

Both first instance courts and peace judges have the power to issue arrest warrants. "Peace judges are the lowest level judges who have been granted a wide range of prosecutorial powers (including issuing arrest warrants), particularly [since] 2014." During the investigation phase, they can arrest a suspect without the suspect being present.

Access to an arrest warrant in the UYAP depends on the phase of the prosecution. If a confidentiality order is given by the prosecutor during the investigation phase, then parties to the case and their lawyers cannot access the arrest warrant. However, it is sometimes possible for lawyers to verify if there is an arrest warrant for a specific person by asking court clerks about new documents being uploaded to the UYAP during the investigation phase of a case (Attorney at law 1 Dec. 2018).

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Court Decisions

The information in this section was provided by the attorney at law:

Court decisions are issued by first instance courts for "verdict[s]/conviction[s]." In the case of "terrorism charges, the competent court[s] [are the] High Criminal Courts."

A court decision is accessible to a Turkish citizen on the following conditions:

  • The person has an "e-devlet" account [4] and a password;
  • The person is party to the case.

A lawyer can access any court decision related to a case he or she is working on, regardless of "whether it pertains to his/her client" because "all judicial documents related to a case are uploaded to the same interface" (Attorney at law 1 Dec. 2018).

Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on the amount of time that elapses before court documents are uploaded to the UYAP could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Appearance of Court Decisions and Arrest Warrants

The information in this section was provided by the attorney at law:

Court decisions and arrest warrants "compl[y] with certain templates. The appearance of each document does not vary according to the region, the police station, or the court of justice." At the top of UYAP documents, "there is a sign resembling a ribbon signifying that the document is signed electronically." At the bottom of every page, there is an indication that the document is an UYAP document, as well as the applicable codes for the document. At the end of the document, the judicial IDs and e-signature of judges involved in the case are found (Attorney at law 1 Dec. 2018).

Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request

Notes

[1] This report is an "expert report" written by the Head of the IT Department of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as part of the EU-funded and Council of Europe-implemented Project on Support to the Court Management System in Turkey (Hunter 17 Oct. 2008, 2).

[2] Seda Kalem Berk is an assistant professor in the Law Faculty at İstanbul Bilgi University and an expert researcher and coordinator at the Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Law Research Center (Kalem Berk Oct. 2011, 55).

[3] The Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) is "an advisory body of the Council of Europe on issues relating to the independence, impartiality and competence of judges" (Council of Europe n.d.).

[4] According to an online platform aimed at foreigners residing in Turkey (YellAli n.d.a), e-Devlet Kapısı (e-government portal) is the Internet government portal in Turkey, where information and online services are provided by public institutions (YellAli n.d.b). In order to access the online services, a subscription is needed (YellAli n.d.b).

References

Attorney at law, Ankara. 1 December 2018. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Council of Europe. 27 January 2011. Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE). Questionnaire with a View of the Preparation of Opinion No. 14 on the Non-Materialisation of the Judicial Process and the Use of IT by Judges and Court Staff. (CCJE-GT(2011)1) [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

Council of Europe. N.d. Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE). "About Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)." [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

European Union (EU). 24 September 2014. European Commission (EC), e-Justice Communication via Online Data Exchange (e-CODEX). D3.12 Documented System Requirements and Specifications (Update of D3.3). [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

European Union (EU). 30 July 2012. European Commission (EC), e-Codex. D3.3 Documented System Requirements and Specifications. [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

Hunter, John. 17 October 2008. Expert Report on the UYAP System (National Judicial Network Project): Project on Support to the Court Management System in Turkey. Council of Europe. (SCMS/EO.005) [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

Kalem Berk, Seda. October 2011. "Access to Justice" in Turkey: Indicators and Recommendations. Translated by Didem Sone. Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV). [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

Turkey. N.d. Ministry of Justice, Department of Information Technologies, National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP). "General Information." [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

YellAli. N.d.a. "About YellAli." [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

YellAli. N.d.b. "E-Devlet Website Portal - turkiye.gov.tr." [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Six law firms in Turkey whose areas of practice include criminal law.

Internet sites, including: Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union; ecoi.net; Turkey – e-Government Gateway, Ministry of Justice; UN – Refworld.

Attachment

Turkey. 30 July 2012. "Turkey." D3.3 Documented System Requirements and Specifications. [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]