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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights today rejected the request of the Turkish Government to "strike out" a Kurdish disappearance case (Tahsin Acar v. Turkey)

Mehmet Salim Acar, a farmer living in Southeast Turkey, was allegedly abducted by two plain-clothes police officers on 20 August 1994. He remains missing to this day.

In October 1994, KHRP submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the disappeared man's brother, Tahsin Acar.

On 9 April 2002, the Court decided to "strike out" the case on the basis of a unilateral declaration from the Turkish Government under Article 37(1) (T.A v Turkey). The declaration expressed regret with regard to the disappearance, and offered an ex gratia payment of £70,000 for costs, pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

On 8 July 2002, KHRP requested that the judgment be referred to the Grand Chamber under Article 43, arguing that the declaration of the Turkish Government was insufficient to resolve the case.

In its judgment of 6 May 2003, the Grand Chamber limited the scope of examination to the question of whether the unilateral declaration was sufficient for holding that it was no longer justified to continue examination of the case. The Court held that the declaration had not adequately addressed the applicant's grievances.

The Court held that, in cases concerning 'disappearances' or unknown perpetrator killings and where there is prima facie evidence supporting allegations that the domestic investigation fell short of what is necessary under the Convention, a unilateral declaration should "at the very least" contain an admission to that effect, as well as an undertaking by the respondent Government to conduct an investigation that is in full compliance with the requirements of the Convention, under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers. (Judgment of 6 May 2003, para. 84)

Accordingly, the Court will now pursue its examination of the case.

Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, says, "This decision will affect any pending strike-out requests from the Turkish Government. The Government will no longer be able merely to "regret" the occurrence of such disappearances without a level of admission."