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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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Turkish authorities repeatedly violated right to life, rules European Court

The European Court of Human Rights has found Turkey to have committed several violations of the ECHR in two separate cases relating to the right to life brought by KHRP.

KHRP took the first case to the Court on behalf of the father (Abdulrezzak) and brother (Halil) of a man, Mehmet Sah Ikincisoy, who was arrested and shot dead while under the control of Turkish authorities in 1994 (Ikincisoy v. Turkey (26144/95)). The second case was brought by the widower of the deceased Sariye Yilmaz on behalf of them and their family, concerning the circumstances surrounding her death in 1996 (Mehmet Sirin Yilmaz v. Turkey (35875/97).

In the first case, decided on 27 July 2004, the Court found it established that on 22 November 1993 a team of police officers from the Anti-Terrorism Branch of the Diyarbakir Security Directorate had undertaken searches in order to find Mehmet Sah Ikincisoy. They had gone to his father's and then to his uncle's apartment, where a shoot-out had occurred. Mehmet Sah Ikincisoy had been arrested the same day and shot dead the following day while under the control of the authorities.

The Court drew very strong inferences from total lack of any evidence indicating that the deceased had been taken into custody. It reiterated that, having regard to the general context of the situation in Southeast Turkey at the time, an unacknowledged detention could be life-threatening. Furthermore, the autopsy examination had been defective in fundamental aspects. The Court was struck by the authorities' refusal to deliver the body to his family, who had intended to request a detailed autopsy. The Court concluded that Mehmet Sah Ikincisoy had died in circumstances engaging Turkey's responsibility, without there being anything to suggest that this had been made necessary. There had therefore been a violation of Article 2.

The Court concluded that a separate violation of Article 2 had occurred in respect of the investigation into Mehmet Sah Ikincisoy's death, which was found to have been ineffective.

The applicant Halil had been held in police custody for 11 days. The European Court could not accept the Turkish Government's claim that it had been necessary to detain him for 11 days without judicial intervention. Accordingly the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 5 ss 3, 4 and 5 in respect of Halil for the authorities' failure to bring Halil promptly before a judge, to have the lawfulness of the detention decided speedily by a court, and to provide compensation for a breach of Article 5.

The Court further held there to have been violations of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 25 (individual petition, now Article 34).

The Court found that there had been no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Article 5 (right to liberty and security) in respect of Abdulrezzak Ikincisoy, Article 5(1) in respect of Halil Ikincisoy, Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

In the second case, decided on 29 July 2004, the applicant alleged that his wife was killed during an artillery attack by the Turkish security forces on their village of Bayirli (Karincak) in Lice district.

The Court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of the right to life (Article 2) on account of the failure of Turkish authorities to conduct an adequate and effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Saniye. It further held that the applicant had been denied an effective remedy in violation of Article 13.

However, the Court found that there was an insufficient factual and evidentiary basis on which to conclude that Saniye was, beyond reasonable doubt, intentionally or recklessly killed by the security forces in violation of Article 2. Alleged violations of Articles 3, 8, 14, 18 and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention were not established. It was deemed not necessary to consider the applicant's complaint under Article 2 regarding the alleged lack of protection in domestic law of the right to life.

Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, said, "That two cases finding Turkey in violation of the right to life have been decided so closely together demonstrates the scale of the problem which has been faced in respecting fundamental human rights in the Kurdish regions. We will continue to monitor the Turkish authorities' implementation of the judgments."