|JUSTICE COMES FROM EUROPEAN COURT FOR A MURDERED KURDISH JOURNALIST|
SEVENTEENTH SUCCESSFUL JUDGMENT FOR KURDISH HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
New judgment before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) finds that Turkey failed to protect the life of Kemal Kiliç, despite pleas to the authorities for protection.
Kemal Kiliç, a journalist with the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem (see KHRP press release, 17 March 2000) petitioned the Governor of Sanliurfa for protection due to the threats and attacks suffered by colleagues working on the newspaper. The Turkish authorities refused to protect him. Two months later Kemal Kiliç was shot dead by four men who waited for him on his route home from work.
The Court found a violation of Article 2 (right to life) and a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).
"This is an important judgment handed down by the European Court, particularly in light of the ruling in favour of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem on 16 March 2000," said Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP). "KHRP has long worked to highlight the extent to which the legal system in south east Turkey systematically fails to protect the local population. This judgment provides conclusive proof of the extent to which the malpractice and inefficiency of the Turkish legal system failed time and again to protect the lives of its citizens, indeed actually actively contributing to an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity. We hope that the State of Turkey will now take steps to ensure that lessons learnt from both of these judgments are now implemented on the ground in Turkey."
The Court found that the state authorities, fully aware of the risk of attack, particularly as elements of the security forces were acting alongside contra-guerillas, failed to protect Kemal Kiliç's right to life. It noted in its judgement that the legal framework in the south east of Turkey was inadequate and severely flawed in its ability to deal with allegations of this nature. The administrative councils used to investigate offences allegedly committed by State officials "did not provide an independent or effective procedure for investigating deaths implicating the security forces".
The failure of the Turkish state to investigate allegations of state collusion was highlighted in the finding before the Court, as was the willingness of the state to rapidly attribute all blame for these attacks to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). The attribution of blame to the PKK meant that the cases were taken before the State Security Courts (in whose jurisdiction the crime of terrorism falls). These Courts have, in previous judgments, failed the requirements of independence and impartiality due to the presence of a military judge. The Court concluded that these defects "undermined the effectiveness of criminal law protection" and "fostered a lack of accountability of members of the security forces".
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 application was made by the Kurdish Human Rights Project on behalf of Cemil Kiliç, the brother of Kemal Kiliç.
3. The Court, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday March 28, 2000, found Turkey to be in violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).
4. Under Article 41 (just compensation), the Court awarded £15,000 in non-pecuniary damage in respect of Kemal Kiliç and £2,500 in respect of the applicant himself. It also awarded £20,000 for legal costs and expenses.
5. An orchestrated campaign, conducted between 1992 and 1994 against the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, led to its closure, and to the murder, imprisonment and disappearance of a string of journalists, correspondents and reporters associated with the newspaper.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.