|Turkish Government responsible for 'disappearances' and village destruction, rules European Court|
In one of its strongest judgments for many years, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has today unanimously found that two men must be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by Turkish state security forces, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Court also ruled that soldiers had destroyed villagers' homes, belongings and livestock, in addition to further ECHR violations (Ipek v. Turkey).
The case was brought by KHRP on behalf of the applicant, Abdurrezak Ipek, concerning the disappearance of his two sons, Ikram and Servet Ipek, as well as the destruction of his family home and property by security forces. The incidents had occurred in the course of an operation conducted in his hamlet of Dahlezeri, near Lice, on 18 May 1994. He also maintained that no effective investigation was carried out concerning either his sons' disappearance of the destruction of his property.
The European Court held unanimously that Turkey had multiply violated the right to life, prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, right to liberty and security, right to an effective remedy and right to respect for the protection of property under the ECHR (Articles 2, 3, 5, 13 and 38(1)(a) of the ECHR and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1).
The application was declared admissible on the 14 May 2002. Because the facts of the case were in dispute between the parties, KHRP requested a fact-finding hearing to resolve the facts of the case. The European Court complied and appointed three delegates to take evidence from witnesses at hearings conducted in Ankara between 18 and 20 November 2002.
Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the KHRP, says, "This is one of the strongest condemnations yet of the actions of the Turkish state security forces and the Government's responsibility for disappearances, torture and village destruction. We believe the fact-finding hearing and the European Court procedure has provided crucial and much needed investigation of these serious human rights violations, as well as providing answers to the relatives of the 'disappeared'. KHRP will continue to monitor the case to ensure the Government now accepts its obligation to execute the judgment."
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
 The judgment of Ipek v. Turkey (25760/94), 17 February 2004, is available from the European Court of Human Rights: http://www.echr.coe.int/Eng/Judgments.htm