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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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Widowed Kurdish teacher receives long-awaited justice for her torture while in State custody

Widowed Kurdish teacher receives long-awaited justice for her torture while in State custody and her husband's murder


Press Release: 11th October 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 Court also found that the State's investigation into the teacher's murder was insufficient and held that Turkey had additionally violated Article 13 (right to an effective remedy). Most significantly, the Court noted in its decision that the State's negligent investigation into the murder lasted a mere 12 days, with only one statement taken at the crime scene.

In addition, the Court also found a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture) in relation to the applicant herself, Nebahat Akkoç, also a primary school teacher, who, during the ten days she was held in police detention in February 1994, was blindfolded, stripped, beaten, forced listen to blaring music and subjected to electric shocks, water torture including dousing with ice-cold and hot water and psychological torture in the form of threats made about the possible ill-treatment that might befall her children. Nebahat Akkoç also stated that during her interrogation by the police, she was questioned about her application to the European Commission of Human Rights.

The Court, in its 10 October 2000 judgement, found Turkey to be in violation of Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court awarded the widowed Nebahat Akkoç a total of nearly £90,000 in damages and legal costs.


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.