Skip to content

KHRP | Kurdish Human Rights Project

narrow screen resolution wide screen resolution Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color brown color green color red color blue color

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.

You are here: 
Skip to content

Charity Awards

Charity Awards

Gruber Prize


Gruber Justice Prize

Kurdish family of 'disappeared' receives justice from Europe - Euro Court condemns Turkey


The latest judgment handed down by the European Court of Human Rights finds that the Turkish state and its agents were liable for the death of Abdulvahap Timurtas, in violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. This finding contributes to the growing body of judgments against Turkey (see Ertak v Turkey) which find the state of Turkey to be liable for the death of an individual, despite their claims before the Court that the individual concerned had not been taken into custody, and that they were unaware of his/her whereabouts.

The case of Mehmet Timurtas v Turkey concerns the disappearance of the applicant's son, whilst he was being held in an unacknowledged detention by the Turkish state authorities. The applicant alleged that his son, Abdulvahap Timurtas, a Kurd from south east Turkey, was taken into custody by security forces on 14 August 1993. He has not been seen since.
The Court found, contrary to findings in the similar KHRP case of Kurt v Turkey, that Abdulvahap Timurtas must be presumed dead following an unacknowledged detention by the security forces. The Court based these conclusions on the fact that six and a half years had lapsed since the disappearance of the applicant's son; that, contrary to the Turkish state's claims, Abdulvahap Timurtas was indeed "taken to a place of detention … by authorities for whom the State is responsible"; and that Abdulvahap Timurtas was wanted by the authorities for his alleged PKK activities. As such the responsibilities of the respondent state for his death are engaged.

Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP), said "KHRP lodged this application in 1994. Since this time there have been a multitude of 'disappearance' cases in Turkey. Indeed KHRP has received judgment in four of our cases involving allegations of state collusion in the 'disappearance' of an individual. This important judgment gives hope to the families of the disappeared, such as the Saturday Mothers, who have long campaigned for news of their disappeared relatives. We hope that Turkey will take on board the serious lessons to be learned from this case, and that the international community, and in particular the Council of Ministers, will closely monitor the full implementation of this judgment."

The Court also found that the Turkish authorities' failure to conduct an investigation into the allegations led to a further violation of Article 2. In addition, the Court found a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), on account of Turkey's "callous disregard" for the concerns of and anguish suffered by the father of Abdulvahap Timurtas in his search for information about the whereabouts of his son. The Court found a violation of Article 5 (right to liberty) and a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), on account of the state's failure both to conduct an effective investigation into Abdulvahap Timurtas's disappearance, and the fact that he disappeared during an unacknowledged detention.


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 application was made by the Kurdish Human Rights Project on behalf of Mehmet Timurtas.

3. Mehmet Timurtas ('the applicant') lodged the case as a result of circumstances surrounding the disappearance and subsequent death of his son, Abdulvahap Timurtas.

4. The Court, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday June 13, 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 TL20,000 in non-pecuniary damages in respect of the applicant's son and TL10,000 in respect of the applicant himself. It also awarded TL20,000 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.