|Torture victims obtain justice: European Court condemns Turkey|
Torture victims obtain justice: European Court condemns Turkey for detention of 16 human rights defenders
The European Court of Human Rights has today ruled that Turkish security forces were responsible for the torture, ill-treatment, and unlawful detention of 16 human rights lawyers in 1993, in a case brought to the Court by KHRP (Elçi and Others v. Turkey, nos. 231451/93 and 25091/94).
The applicants were all Turkish lawyers involved in human rights work, based in the Southeast of Turkey. They were taken into custody in November and December 1993 and blindfolded, insulted, assaulted, beaten, stripped naked, hosed with pressurised cold water, and deprived of adequate food and drink for up to 25 days.
The Court ruled that there had been violations of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment (Article 3, ECHR) in respect of all of the applicants. Four of the applicants had been subjected to both physical and mental violence which was "particularly cruel and severe". The five others were still sufficiently severe to constitute violations of Article 3.
The Court held that there had been a violation of the right to liberty and security (Article 5, ECHR) in respect of all the applicants, as all had been unlawfully detained without authorisation by a Public Prosecutor, as required by domestic law.
The Court held that in the case of five of the applicants, the search and seizure of possessions was implemented without proper authorisation or safeguards, amounting to a violation of the right to respect for privacy (Article 8, ECHR).
The Court concluded, however, that there was no significant hindrance in the applicants? right of individual petition which would constitute a breach of Article 34, ECHR (former Article 25).
Kerim Yildiz, KHRP Executive Director, says, "The Court has reaffirmed the central role of the legal profession in the administration of justice and the maintenance of the rule of law. The persecution and harassment of members of the legal profession thus strikes at the very heart of the Convention system. Sadly, the persecution of human rights defenders is a systematic practice that occurs in Turkey every day"
KHRP will continue to monitor the case to ensure that the Turkish Government complies with the Court's ruling.