|After seven years of suffering, Euro Ct offers justice for the father of "disappeared" Kurdish son|
After seven years of suffering, Euro Court offers justice for the father of "disappeared" Kurdish son
SUCCESSFUL JUDGMENTS FOR KURDISH HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS NOW TOTAL TWENTY-FOUR
BESIR TAS v. TURKEY (DISAPPEARANCE, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT)
Press Release: 14th November 2000
The latest judgement handed down yesterday by the European Court of Human Rights finds the Turkish State guilty of torturing Kurdish school teacher, Nebahat Akkoç, and responsible for the death of her husband, Zübeyir Akkoç, also a primary school teacher of Kurdish origin. In its decision, the European Court of Human Rights has found the Turkish State in violation of the European Convention's Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture), despite claims from the Turkish State to the contrary.
The Akkoç case, which was brought to the European Commission on behalf of applicant, Nebahat Akkoç, by the Kurdish Human Rights Project in 1993, concerns the murder of the applicant's husband, Zübeyir Akkoç, a school teacher, who was shot and killed along with a fellow teacher on his way to work on the morning of 13 January 1993 and also the torture of the applicant while she was held in police custody in February 1994. Following its initial submission to the European Commission on 1 November 1993, the case was referred to the European Court on 13 September 1999.
Finding a violation of Article 2 (right to life), the Court established today that the Turkish State had failed to protect the life of Zübeyir Akkoç despite being aware of the fact that he was at real and immediate risk of unlawful violence from State officials or those acting on their behalf or with their connivance or acquiescence. As a school teacher engaged in trade union activities that were perceived by the authorities as unlawful and against the State interest, Akkoç was at particular risk of falling victim to an unlawful attack. Additionally, prior to the murder, both Zübeyir and Nebahat Akkoç had informed the public prosecutor that they had received telephone calls during which threats to their lives were made.
The Tas case, which was brought to the Court on behalf of applicant Besir Tas by the Kurdish Human Rights Project in 1994, concerns the disappearance of the applicant's son, Muhsin Tas, after he was detained by Turkish State authorities in Cizre, Southeast Turkey. After being wounded by security forces who apprehended him on 14 October 1993, Muhsin Tas was brought by gendarmes to a hospital in Sirnak where he received medical treatment. Following his release from hospital, however, no records gave reliable indication of what happened to him. On 18 November 1993, Besir Tas, Muhsin's father, was told that his son had absconded from custody. Mushin Tas has not been seen since.
Citing three previous KHRP-assisted cases of Cakici v. Turkey, Ertak v. Turkey and Timurtas v. Turkey, the Court determined that the Turkish State's "inability to provide a satisfactory and plausible explanation as to what happened to [Mushin Tas]" during his detention led them to decide that Muhsin Tas died while in State custody.
In addition to violations of Articles 2 and 3, the Court also found a "particularly grave violation" of Article 5 (right to liberty and security of person) in regard to the unlawfulness of Muhsin Tas' detention which included State failure to record his detention, the lengthy period of his detention without being brought before a court and the lack of effective safeguards against arbitrary detention or disappearance.
Commenting on the judgment, Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, said, "The ever-growing public catalogue of Turkey's gross human rights violations has once again been condemned by the European Court. The time has long since arrived, however, for Member States of the Council of Europe and the Committee of Ministers to finally act upon Turkey's flagrant disregard for the Court's decisions. Full membership for Turkey in the EU, the conditions for which were outlined just six days ago in the EU Accession Agreement, can't be seriously considered while the Turkish State persists in its refusal to implement the European Court judgments that continue to be racked up against them."
The Court also ruled Turkey had violated Article 3 of the Convention (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) with regard to the State's "indifference and callousness…to the applicant's concerns and the acute anguish and uncertainty which he has suffered as a result and continues to suffer." After years of suffering the agony that haunts the families of the "disappeared", Besir Tas has today received Court acknowledgement of his pain.
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 case of Tas v. Turkey (disappearance, inhuman or degrading treatment) concerns the disappearance of the applicant's son, Muhsin Tas, in October 1993. On 14th October 1993, Mr. Tas was apprehended during an operation carried out by security forces in Cizre, Southeast Turkey and later he was treated in a hospital in Sirnak for injuries to his knee. No further records indicated where he was held in custody after that event. On or about 18 November 1993, the applicant was told that his son had absconded from custody while being taken on 9 November 1993 into the mountains to show terrorist locations to the security force. The applicant told the public prosecutor that he feared that his son had been killed in custody. No investigation into his complaints was made by the public prosecutor until late 1995.
3. The application was made by the Kurdish Human Rights Project on behalf of Besir Tas. Besir Tas ('the applicant') lodged the case as a result of circumstances surrounding the disappearance and subsequent death of his son, Muhsin Tas.
4. The Court, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday, November 14, 2000, found Turkey to be in violation of Article 2, 3, 5 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
5. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court awarded £20,000 in non-pecuniary damages in respect of the Mushin Tas' heirs and £10,000 in respect of the applicant himself. It also awarded £14,795 for legal costs and expenses.6. 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.