|Justice delivered for Kurdish mother of "disappeared" children - Turkey held responsible by Euro Ct|
Justice delivered for Kurdish mother of "disappeared" children - Turkey held responsible by European Court and fined £70,000
Hamsa Çiçek v Turkey (DISAPPEARANCE)
Press Release: 28th February 2001
In a judgment handed down yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights found the Turkish State in violation of multiple Articles of the European Convention with regard to the complaints lodged by Kurdish applicant, Hamsa Çiçek, on behalf of her two children who have not been seen since they were detained by Turkish soldiers in May 1994.
The Çiçek case, which the Kurdish Human Rights Project brought to the European Court on behalf of applicant Hamsa Çiçek in November 1994, concerns the disappearance of Mrs. Çiçek's two sons, Tahsin Çiçek and Ali Ihsan Çiçek, who were last seen being apprehended by Turkish officers in the applicant's village of Dernek. In its decision, the Court ruled that the Turkish State "failed to offer any credible and substantiated explanation for the whereabouts and fate of the applicant's two sons" and was therefore responsible for failing to protect their right to life under Article 2 of the Convention. The Court also held Turkey in violation of Article 3 of the Convention for subjecting Mrs. Çiçek to inhuman and degrading treatment due to the "uncertainty, doubt and apprehension she suffered over a prolonged and continuing period of time [which] had undoubtedly caused her severe mental distress and anguish." Significantly, the Court noted the "superficial approach" taken by the public prosecutor in Turkey who failed to make "any meaningful investigation" into Mrs. Çiçek's fears that her sons were missing and in danger. In coming to its judgment, the Court was also careful to point out that while it found the testimonies provided by the applicant and fellow villagers of Dernak to be truthful and accurate, it was simply unable to accept the statements provided by Turkish officials who testified on behalf of the Government.
In addition to violations of Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention, the Court also found a "most grave violation" of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) due to the "complete absence of safeguards" in the soldiers' detention procedure and also a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) due to the fact that Mrs. Çiçek 's fears about her children were "never the subject of any serious investigation" on part of the Turkish authorities. The Court awarded compensation and costs to Mrs. Çiçek and her sons' heirs amounting to £70,000.
Commenting on the judgment, Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, said, "In light of the 1999 resolution by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe regarding the need for Turkey to enforce better control of its security forces, the State's failure to accurately account for its actions in this case points once again to Turkey's continued failure to live up to European standards."
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 Çiçek v. Turkey concerns the disappearance of Tahsin Çiçek and Ali Ihsan Çiçek, who were detained by Turkish soldiers in May 1994 and have not been seen since. The Court was satisfied that the two must be presumed dead.
3. The application was made by the Kurdish Human Rights Project on 8 November 1994 on behalf of Hamsa Çiçek, mother of the two "disappeared".
4. The Court, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday, 27 February 2001, found Turkey to be in violation of Articles 2, 3, 5, and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
5. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court unanimously awarded the applicant's sons' heirs £50,000 in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages, £10,000 to the applicant in non-pecuniary damages and £10,000 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.