|ECHR rules 11-day detention in Turkish police custody unlawful|
The European Court of Human Rights has today ruled that Turkey violated Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention by detaining a woman for eleven days before bringing her before a judge (Sen v. Turkey).
The applicant Nuray Sen was the director of the Mesopotamia Cultural Centre, based in Istanbul, which researches, examines, collates and exhibits, with a view to their preservation, the culture and art of the peoples who have lived and are living in Mesopotamia, mainly Kurds.
On 10 November 1995, Mrs Sen was arrested on suspicion of being a member of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK, now KADEK), and taken to the Gendarme Intelligence and Anti-terrorism Headquarters in Diyarbakir. She was brought before the prosecutor at the Diyarbakir State Security Court on 21 November 1995. With the assistance of KHRP, the applicant submitted her complaints to the Court on 15 April 1996.
She complained, under Article 5(3) (right to be brought promptly before a judge) of the Convention, that she had been held in police custody for 11 days before being brought before a judge. The Turkish Government maintained that 11 days' detention was justified on account of the scale of PKK violence in south-east Turkey at the time and relied on a notice of derogation from certain rights protected by the Convention which it had sent to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on 6 August 1990. That derogation was revoked on 29 January 2001.
The Court noted that the Government had not given any reasons why the situation in south-east Turkey had been such as to make it impossible to bring the applicant before a judge earlier. Consequently, it considered that the crisis in the region could not justify the period of detention in question. The Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 5(3).
In a further application to the Court assisted by KHRP, the applicant also complains that her husband Mehmet Sen was killed in circumstances engaging the responsibility of the State.
Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, says, "This ECHR judgment places an obligation on Turkey to ensure that nobody is kept in detention for eleven days before being brought before a judge, even where a state of emergency is in place. Once again, Turkey has to fulfill its obligations to reform and improve human rights in order to join the EU. The international community must monitor closely Turkey's implementation of this and other judgments."