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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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MAHMUT KAYA V TURKEY (extra-judicial killing)

A litany of failures by the Turkish authorities to fully investigate allegations of state collusion in murder, abduction and torture is revealed in new judgment handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

A Kurdish doctor, suspected of assisting injured members of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), and his colleague, suffered ill-treatment and were later found murdered by unknown assailants. Subsequent reports in the media suggested that Dr Hasan Kaya and Metin Can, labelled as PKK sympathisers, were killed by contra-guerillas acting with the knowledge and support of the state security forces. The Court found a violation of Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP), said "This ruling provides vital evidence of the level of state involvement in and indifference to the indiscriminate attacks on Kurds in south east Turkey around the beginning of the 1990s. It vindicates the claims by so many that time and time again the Turkish authorities failed in their positive duty to protect the lives of those threatened. This is reflected in the case of Dr Kaya where the Turkish authorities, aware of the risk to his life, failed to protect him from abduction, ill-treatment and his subsequent murder. KHRP will monitor the full implementation of the Court's judgment".

Mahmut Kaya, with the assistance of KHRP, lodged an application with the ECHR on behalf of his brother Dr Hasan Kaya. Dr Kaya (a medical practitioner in south east Turkey) and a colleague Metin Can (President of the Elazig Human Rights Association) disappeared on 21 February 1993. The next day the police were informed of their disappearance. Six days later, on 27 February 1993, the bodies of the two men were discovered. Both had been shot through the head and bore signs of torture on their bodies.

The Court in particular noted that the investigation by the Turkish authorities was "limited, superficial and dilatory" and that the autopsies conducted on the bodies was "cursory and inadequate". It concluded that "no effective criminal investigation could be considered as having been conducted".

This case, in conjunction with a number of other KHRP cases lodged around the time, has produced a powerful body of evidence to the effect that allegations of the widespread and systematic nature of attacks on the local Kurdish population were conducted in a climate of impunity and the absence of the rule of law in south east Turkey. The Court comments that a substantial body of case work before the Court, lodged from within south east Turkey after events in the early 1990s, produced "a series of findings of failures by the authorities to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by the security forces".


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 Mahmut Kaya.

3. Mahmut Kaya ('the applicant') lodged the case as a result of circumstances surrounding the disappearance and subsequent death of his brother, Dr Hasan Kaya.

4. The Court, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday March 28, 2000, found Turkey to be in violation of Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

5. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court awarded £15,000 in non-pecuniary damage in respect of Dr Hasan Kaya and £2,500 in respect of the applicant himself. It also awarded £22,000 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.