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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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Evidence Of Human Rights Abuses Exposed In Turkey

Two reports published today (Tues 1800) reveal an investigation into BP's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline has uncovered evidence of human rights abuses, including violations of international fair trial standards in Turkey. The project is funded by British tax payers via loans from the World Bank, the Export Credit Guarantee Dept (ECGD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Environmental and human rights groups are calling on the development banks to explicitly screen projects for their potential human rights impacts.

The evidence, published by Kurdish Human Rights Project, The Corner House, Friends of the Earth and Environmental Defense, follows a fact-finding mission to the Ardahan and Imranli regions of Turkey, along the pipeline route, which included observing the trial of a Turkish human rights defender [1].

Ferhat Kaya was detained and allegedly tortured in May 2004 as a result of his work with villagers affected by the pipeline. Eleven police officers were accused of ill-treating him [2]. But at his trial, the fact-finding mission observed deficiencies in the amounting to violations of international fair trial standards. The mission was itself subject to police surveillance throughout its visit.

Catriona Vine, a barrister who took part in the fact finding and trial observation mission, said:

" It is particularly worrying that the human rights reforms implemented by the Turkish Government in advance of its EU accession application appear to have had little impact in the North-East region of Turkey as evidenced by the conclusions of both reports."

The mission also found that the project is being implemented in breach of agreed standards, particularly those relating to land acquisition, potentially placing the project in violation of host country law, project loan conditions and the European Convention on Human Rights. Legal reforms recently adopted by Turkey appear not to have been implemented.

Kerim Yildiz of the Kurdish Human Rights Project said:

"We recommend that the project lenders now come to terms with the context in which this project is being implemented, including the capacity of BOTAS (the Turkish company responsible for building the pipeline in Turkey) and the Turkish Government to ensure fair expropriation and compensation practices. This should include much closer and more independent oversight, monitoring and scrutiny by project lenders."

The mission also found that problems which had been previously identified had still not been addressed, with severe impacts on villagers. The groups believe that the public financiers subsidizing the project should take greater responsibility for ensuring that international standards are enforced.

Nick Hildyard of The Corner House said:

"The UK government has admitted to parliament that there have been significant breaches of project standards but claim they do not justifying suspending the loan. Whilst BP continues to get its money, many affected villagers are still waiting the compensation that is owed to them. Protestors face intimidation, detention or worse, with little prospect of a fair trial."

Friends of the Earth International Finance Campaigner Hannah Ellis said:

"BP's project is resulting in human rights abuses on the back of development bank finance. Ferhat Kaya's trial highlights the failure of the project's attempts at consultation with those affected. BP and the banks involved must do more to ensure that the work they fund is not breaching fundamental environmental and social standards."


[1] The two reports - Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline: Human Rights, Social and Environmental Impacts Turkey Section (ISBN 1 900175 79 7) and The Trials of Ferhat Kaya (ISBN 1 90017586X) - are available from Kurdish Human Rights Project (+44 (0) 207 405-3835) or the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign from 1700 (GMT)