|Leyla Zana to challenge imprisonment verdict at European Court of Human Rights|
KHRP is to assist Leyla Zana and three other imprisoned former Democracy Party (DEP) parliamentarians in taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), following the decision of Turkish courts today to confirm their fifteen year prison sentences.
The Ankara State Security Court sentenced the pro-Kurdish parliamentarians to fifteen years' imprisonment for membership of an armed rebel group, confirming a 1994 sentence passed on them.
The pro-Kurdish parliamentarians, Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak, had received a domestic retrial following an earlier ECtHR decision that they had not received a fair trial. In February 2003, a 'Harmonisation' law was passed aimed at bringing Turkey in line with EU accession standards. The law granted a right to defendants to have a retrial where the ECtHR has ruled that their original trial was unfair, in violation of the ECHR.
KHRP has assisted the parliamentarians in taking their cases to the ECtHR, which ruled in July 2001 that the DEP parliamentarians had not received a fair trial; and in June 2002, that the dissolution of the DEP party itself had violated the right to fair and free elections. The Ankara State Security Court consented to retry the former parliamentarians in February 2003.
Kerim Yildiz, KHRP Executive Director, says, "The court's decision has brought Turkey's efforts to meet EU accession standards into disrepute. This ought to have been an opportunity for Turkey to demonstrate its commitment to international human rights law; instead the case has only highlighted how far Turkey is from meeting those standards. Sadly, the widespread failure of Turkish authorities to implement reforms on the ground also made this decision inevitable. We strongly condemn this verdict and urge the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to consider the case urgently, in light of the continued and unjust imprisonment of these Kurdish politicians."