|TWENTY-FIFTH SUCCESSFUL JUDGMENT FOR KHRP BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT IS HANDED DOWN|
Euro Court declares Turkish security forces' destruction of home and possessions amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment
TWENTY-FIFTH SUCCESSFUL JUDGMENT FOR KURDISH HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT IS HANDED DOWN
IHSAN BILGIN v TURKEY (VILLAGE DESTRUCTION, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT)
Press Release: 16th November 2000
The European Court of Human Rights today has found that the Turkish State's destruction of a Kurdish family's home, possessions and livelihood was so severe that it amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment as defined under Article 3 (prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment).
Beginning in 1993, Ihsan Bilgin's home came under attack by Turkish gendarmes who first destroyed Bilgin's furniture, household goods and fittings and eventually burned down his house. In his case, Mr. Bilgin complained of a violation of his right to respect for private and family life and home (Article 8), violations of his property rights (Article 1 of Protocol No. 1) and also of being treated in a manner so severe that it amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment as defined under Article 3 of the European Convention. Additionally, Ihsan Bilgin claimed that he was given no effective remedy as guaranteed under Article 13 of the Convention and that his right to petition to the European Court with hindrance (Article 34, formerly Article 25) had been violated by the gendarmerie at the Çatakköprü gendarmerie station who had questioned him about his Court application and forced him to sign a statement purporting to retract it.
Referring, in its judgment, to the previous KHRP case of Kaya v Turkey, the Court found that the Turkish authorities were under an obligation to carry out an effective investigation of the destruction of homes and that defects in the investigatory systems in Southeast Turkey undermined the effectiveness of criminal law protection which, in turn, permitted a lack of accountability on the part of State security forces for their actions. The Court added that in cases like Kaya v Turkey it had already expressed serious doubts as to the ability of authorities in the Southeast to carry out independent investigations. In Mr. Bilgin's case, the Court ruled that the domestic investigation into his case was limited in scope and ineffective and thus constituted a violation of Article 13. The Court also established that security forces were clearly responsible for the destruction of Mr. Bilgin's home which had deprived him of his livelihood and caused him and his family the further suffering of having to abandon the hamlet they had always lived in and resettle elsewhere. The Court ruled that the severity of this deprivation and suffering was sufficient to categorise the State's acts as a clear violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment). The Court also ruled that as the commander of the Çatakköprü gendarmerie station had questioned Mr. Bilgin about his application to the European Court without any instruction from the public prosecutor to do so, the Turkish Government was in violation of Article 34 (formerly Article 25) of the European Convention which holds that applicants must not be hindered (in the form of illicit or unacceptable pressure) in the exercise of their right to make an individual application to the Court.
In its 16 November 2000 judgment, the Court found Turkey to be in violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 34 (formerly Article 25 § 1 - not to hinder the right to make an individual application) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court awarded the Ihsan Bilgin £43,500 in damages and legal costs.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. The Kurdish Human Rights Project works for the promotion and protection of human rights within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union.2. The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. On 1 November 1998 a full-time Court was established, replacing the original two-tier system of a part-time Commission and Court.