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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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Gruber Prize


Gruber Justice Prize

2004 Annual Report - Page 4
Article Index
2004 Annual Report
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After more than a decade, KHRP has directly taken cases on behalf of more than 500 applicants from Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan in cases concerning the death penalty, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, unfair trials, censorship, village destructions, unfair elections and other serious violations. In over 90 per cent of these cases that have reached judgment, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has held that the Governments in question had breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

KHRP cases established almost immediately that the most serious established human rights violations occurring anywhere in Europe transpired in the Kurdish regions. This helped place Kurdish human rights on the international agenda and to ensure that protection of human rights would be a precondition of Turkey's accession to the EU. To the people in the Kurdish regions, particularly the most marginalised groups including women, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and minorities, the cases afford de facto improved access to justice that has been denied to them domestically, and is often the only form of redress available. The Law Society of England and Wales, Liberty and JUSTICE honoured the organisation's "dedication and commitment to human rights shown over the past year" when short-listing the organisation for a prestigious human rights award in December 2004.

As well as binding judgments, survivors of human rights violations are awarded damages for emotional distress or pecuniary losses. When disputes in the facts of a case arise, ECtHR judges hold investigative hearings to take first-hand evidence directly from applicants' and governments witnesses. This process is of immense value to survivors of human rights violations or their relatives, particularly to those seeking answers as to the fate of 'disappeared' loved ones, such as the parents who received the 2004 ECtHR judgment that their sons - last seen in the custody of Turkish security forces - must now be presumed dead (Ipek v. Turkey). The use of the ECtHR has fostered greater respect for human rights in the Kurdish regions while also helping to make necessary changes to law and practice on the ground; although human rights defenders cannot become complacent. Authorities found to have violated human rights are required by international law to end such practices, and to take individual or general measures which ensure that similar abuses do not recur. In this way, KHRP cases have established precedents which have changed the lives of millions of people.

"New legislation (Act No.4229), following the [KHRP case] Aksoy judgment, reduced the maximum lengths of time that a person may be held in police custody. the latter together with the subsequent regulations have had important incidences on the attitudes of members of the security forces regarding respect for fundamental rights during detention in police custody." Turkish authorities, reporting to the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, confirming the causal link between KHRP cases and changes to legislation and practices on the ground.

KHRP has worked continually to identify new cases that could set precedents as well as focus state and international attention on ending human rights violations. In 2004, KHRP lodged six new cases against Turkey on behalf of 66 applicants, both men and women, including cases exploring new areas of jurisprudence such as the expropriation of villagers' land to make way for a controversial oil pipeline. Other fora for petition include national and international governmental and nongovernmental organisations such as UN mechanisms, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Court of Justice, the European Commission and International Financial Institutions. Further, KHRP assists the most marginalised groups in addressing such institutions directly, providing them with a channel of communication to the policy and decision makers with the influence to change their lives.

Once new applications have been submitted, KHRP continues to compile evidence and make legal submissions for the five to six years required to reach judgment. After a case's conclusion, KHRP follows up by meeting and corresponding with the applicant to ensure that the judgment has been fully implemented. KHRP also informs the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers regularly about any non-implementation of judgments.


KHRP liaises regularly with the Council of Europe and its institutions over the compliance of member states, namely Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, with their obligations to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Through a coherent programme of litigation and advocacy, KHRP has established precedents which have not only influenced legislation and policy in the regions, but throughout all 46 member states, in addition to influencing issues of more general importance, such as the reform of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Proposals for streamlining the ECtHR in view of the rising volume of applications submitted to it and its limited available resources have been ongoing since 2001. Since then, KHRP has been instrumental in initiating an NGO coalition that advocated concerns and made recommendations concerning the reform proposals. By May 2004, 114 human rights organisations internationally had jointly submitted these concerns to the Committee of Ministers.

This chapter in the ECtHR's history came to a close on 12 May 2004 with the adoption of a new Protocol stipulating that the ECtHR can now declare inadmissible the case of an applicant who has not suffered a 'significant disadvantage' due to a human rights violation. Despite qualifications in its final adopted form, KHRP shares the concern of some of the judges in the ECtHR, members of the Registry and some governments that such admissibility criteria will seriously curtail the right of individual petition currently underpinning the ECHR system.

KHRP is also dedicated to monitoring the implementation of ECtHR judgements. If violating governments do not comply, they are in direct violation of the ECHR and threaten the system as whole. KHRP also therefore liaises with the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, the body mandated to supervise the execution of ECtHR judgments. In light of discussions which took place in 2004 over Turkey's potential accession to the EU, KHRP has also liaised with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe over human rights concerns in Turkey.


On 17 February 2004, a KHRP case led the ECtHR to make one of its strongest condemnations to date of the actions of the Turkish state security forces and the Government's responsibility for disappearances, torture and village destruction. The case concerned the disappearance of the applicant's two sons, as well as the destruction of his family home and property by security forces. The applicant also maintained that no effective investigation was carried out concerning either his sons' disappearance or the destruction of his property (Ipek v. Turkey (25760/94)). "When the flames started to rise from the village, the women and children started to cry. Then the soldiers threatened us, saying, 'If you start crying, we'll burn you just like your houses.' All of us became quiet."

Applicant in Ipek v. Turkey

The Court held unanimously that the two men must be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by Turkish security forces. It held that Turkey had multiply violated the right to life, prohibition of torture and illtreatment, right to liberty and security, right to an effective remedy and right to respect for the protection of property. A second KHRP case reached judgment at the ECtHR's Grand Chamber, a panel of judges reserved only to consider cases that raise a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of the ECHR, or a serious issue of general importance. The case concerned Mehmet Selim Acar, a man who had been working in a field when two armed men, claiming to be police offi cers, abducted him. Nothing has been seen nor heard of him since. KHRP took a case on behalf of the victim's brother, Tahsin Acar, complaining of the unlawfulness and excessive length of the victim's detention and of the failure to provide him with medical care (Acar v. Turkey (26307/95)).

On 8 April 2004, the Grand Chamber ruled in favour of the applicant by finding that the Turkish Government's failure to conduct any adequate or effective investigation into the disappearance had violated the right to life. It found a further violation of Article 38 which binds states to cooperate fully with the ECtHR in any investigation aimed at establishing facts. However, the statements of two eyewitnesses that contested the applicant's account led the ECtHR to conclude that a substantive violation of the right to life had not been established 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

The imposition of this high evidentiary burden disappointed the applicant and his legal team, but the very fact that the Grand Chamber considered the case on its merits at all has been a hard-won battle. In 2001, the applicant refused to accept an offer of friendly settlement from the Turkish Government, considering it was not sufficient to resolve his case. In a decision closely allied to the reform of the ECHR, the ECtHR had decided to 'strike out' the case in 2002 on the basis of a formulaic statement from the Turkish Government. In the strongest legal challenge yet to the inappropriate use of the 'strike out' procedure, KHRP's legal team requested the case be referred to the Grand Chamber which, in May 2003, confirmed KHRP's view that an examination of the case on its merits should now take place. That examination of the case on its merits, delivered by the Grand Chamber on 8 April 2004, therefore draws to a close a chapter that has placed the ECHR process as a whole under scrutiny.


The ECtHR delivered its eagerly anticipated judgment in Issa & Others v. Turkey (31821/96) on 16 October 2004. The international community has observed the case's progress closely, expecting it to determine controversial areas of international law such as the human rights obligations of British troops while serving in Iraq. KHRP has made submissions in the case over the past nine years since being contacted by the applicants, six Iraqi citizens of Kurdish origin living in Iraqi Kurdistan, in 1995.

The case concerns seven Kurdish shepherds who were killed in the course of a military operation conducted by the Turkish army in Northern Iraq in April 1995. The shepherds' mutilated corpses were found, with ears, tongues and genitals missing, three days after they had been taken away by Turkish offi cers. The applicants - the widows of five of the shepherds and the mother of one - complained of violations of Articles 2, 3, 4, 8, 13, 14 and 18 of the ECHR. Alongside Öcalan v. Turkey and Bankovic a.o. v. Belgium, the case is the most important determinant to date of the ECHR obligations of signatories while intervening in the territory of a third state not party to the Convention.

"They kill us because we are defenceless and there is no-one to defend us against them. I beg you to do something for us. I know my husband and the other men were killed by Turkish Soldiers but we are hopeless to do anything here against these criminals."

Basna Rashid Omer, widow of one of the seven shepherds

It was undisputed between the applicants and the Turkish Government that the Turkish armed forced carried out military operations in Northern Iraq. However, the fate of the applicants' complaints depended on their ability to establish that, at the relevant time, the operations took place in the hills above the village of Azadi. In its landmark judgment, the Court affirmed that the concept of "jurisdiction" within the meaning of ECHR signatories' obligation to respect human rights is not necessarily restricted to those parties' national territories or to the Council of Europe. KHRP welcomes the Court's clear indication that Article 1 cannot be interpreted so as to allow a State party to perpetrate ECHR violations on the territory of another State which it could not perpetrate on its own territory; a decision of particular importance in the current context of Iraq. The judgment determines that similar human rights violations should not occur in future.

The Court held unanimously that, on the basis of all the material in its possession, the applicants had not established 'beyond reasonable doubt' that Turkish armed forces had conducted operations in the area in question and, accordingly, that the complaints fell within the jurisdiction of Turkey. That finding made it unnecessary to examine the applicants' substantive complaints under the Convention. The case was appealed to the Grand Chamber in light of its major significance for the interpretation and application of the ECHR, particularly surrounding the issue of extraterritorial jurisdiction.


On 27 July 2004, a ECtHR judgment found it established that Turkish authorities had arrested and shot dead a Kurdish man held in their custody in 1994, thereby violating his right to life Ikincisoy v. Turkey (26144/95). KHRP had taken the case on behalf of the father and brother of the deceased, Mehmet Sah Ikincisoy. The ECtHR drew very strong inferences from the 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 concluded that the death had occurred in circumstances engaging Turkey's responsibility. It further concluded that a separate violation of Article 2 had occurred in respect of the ineffective investigation into the death.

The same case established violations of the ECHR in respect of the victim's brother Halil, finding that it could not accept the Turkish Government's claim that it had been necessary to detain him for eleven days without judicial intervention. It held accordingly that there had been a breach of his rights to liberty and security, to an effective remedy, and to petition the Court without interference.

A further KHRP case concerning the alleged killing of a man in detention in Bitlis in 1995 was declared inadmissible on 30 March 2004 (H. Tepe v. Turkey (30319/02).


In four separate KHRP cases in 2004, the ECtHR condemned the Turkish Government's record in failing to conduct adequate or effective investigations into deaths in suspicious circumstances, thereby violating the applicants' rights to life and to an effective remedy. On 28 March 2004, the Court held that Turkey had violated the right to life for its failure to investigate the killing of Mehmet Sen, a mayoral candidate and leading member of the pro-Kurdish DEP party (Nuray Sen v. Turkey (25354/94)). The deceased was abducted in March 1994 by two plainclothed policemen.

The next day his body was found abandoned; he had been tortured and shot in the head. "My husband was kidnapped and later tortured and killed by Turkish Contraguerrillas.

"KHRP has paid very careful and good attention on my case since I brought it before the court. KHRP has been with me during my difficult times and [made a] very good example of a job well done. The existence of KHRP is necessary as this institution is a bridge to gain justice for the victims of human rights violations."

Nuray Sen

In its judgment, the Court acknowledged that a significant number of prominent Kurdish figures had been killed by unknown perpetrators at the material time. However, in the absence of suffi cient corroborating evidence, the Court could not conclude beyond all reasonable doubt that Sen had been deliberately killed by state offi cials or by persons acting under their instruction. Nonetheless, the Turkish Government was found to have violated the rights to life and to an effective remedy for its failure to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

In a second case, KHRP obtained justice for a man who alleged that his wife, Saniye Yilmaz, had been killed during an artillery attack by security forces on their village (Mehmet Sirin Yilmaz v. Turkey (35875/97). It was noted that an investigation into the incident was only carried out eight years after the incident, following the communication of the application to the ECtHR, and that neither a postmortem nor a ballistics examination was carried out by the public prosecutor investigation. As such, there was no effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Saniye. The Court further held that the applicant had been denied an effective remedy in violation of Article 13.

A third KHRP case in 2004 resulted in the ECtHR condemning Turkish authorities for failing to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of a Kurdish man (Tekdag v. Turkey (27699/95). Ali Tekdag was shopping on 13 November 1994 when he told his wife that he had to attend to something and asked her not to wait for him. He returned shortly afterwards, pretending not to recognise her, told her not to come near him and went into a nearby street. He was being followed by armed men carrying walkie-talkies. Shots were fired and plain-clothes policemen subsequently arrived on the scene and took him away. His wife has heard no news of him since that day and presumes him to be dead. The Court case obtained justice for his death by establishing violations of the rights to life, to an effective remedy, and of the obligation to provide all necessary facilities to the Court in its task of establishing the facts (Articles 2, 13 and 38).

The fourth case concerned the abduction and killing of a Kurdish man, Savas Buldan, in 1994 (Buldan v. Turkey (28298/95). Buldan was leaving a casino with two friends when they were approached by seven or eight people who introduced themselves as police offi cers. The three men were then forced into three cars. That night, three bodies - shot at point blank range - were discovered. The suspected killer was acquitted for lack of evidence in November 1999. The ECtHR held unanimously on 20 April 2004 that Turkish authorities had violated the rights to life and to an effective remedy (Articles 2 and 13).



"I decided to take my case to ECHR after all domestic remedies were exhausted in Turkey. I appointed KHRP's legal team as representatives. KHRP's extensive legal experience, professional way of communication, smooth teamwork, professional organisational structure and use of developed communication systems have been the major factors in the success of my case. I am very grateful to the labour and efforts spent by every KHRP staff member."

Ozkan Kalin

On 10 November 2004, the ECtHR delivered its judgment in one of a series of cases concerning freedom of expression brought to the Court by KHRP (Kalin v. Turkey (31236/96). The applicant was the editor of a weekly publication who was sentenced to a fine and two years imprisonment on the basis of one publication. In its judgment the Court held unanimously that there had been violation of his right to freedom of expression and to a fair trial, as the national security court that had tried him had not been independent and impartial (Articles 6 and 10).

The ECtHR reached the same judgment in a separate KHRP case in 2004, concerning the owner and director of a publishing house who was prosecuted for spreading 'separatist' propaganda after publishing a book concerning the torture and killing of Ferhat Tepe, a 19-year old reporter for a pro-Kurdish newspaper (Zarakolu v. Turkey 26971/95 and 37933/97). The book was fiercely critical of human rights violations occurring Turkey. Aysenir Zarakolu, the publisher, was sentenced to five months imprisonment, sentence that was later commuted to a fine, and copies of the book were confiscated. KHRP pursued the case on behalf of her husband and two sons following her death in January 2002. The ECtHR held that her rights to freedom of expression and to an independent and impartial tribunal had been violated due to the presence of military judge in the court that had tried and convicted her.

Several other KHRP cases concerning alleged violations of freedom of expression received admissibility decisions in 2004. The first concerned the trial of a highly respected journalist and writer, who was charged under the Turkish Penal Code for publishing material which allegedly discouraged citizens from performing military service (Duzgoren v. Turkey (56827/00). The ECtHR declared admissible his complaints that as a civilian tried by the military courts, he did not receive a fair hearing by an independent tribunal and that his prosecution and conviction violated his rights to freedom of expression and to an effective remedy (Articles 6, 10 and 13). The second, declared admissible by the ECtHR on 18 March 2004, concerns alleged violations of freedom of expression and to a fair trial that occurred in connection with the conviction of nine members or supporters of a political party that has taken up the Kurdish issue, HADEP, for writing a declaration concerning the treatment of Kurds in Turkey (Varli & Others v. Turkey (57299/00)). The men were convicted under Article 3 of the Turkish Constitution and Article 312(2) of the Turkish Penal Code.

In one new KHRP case concerning censorship in Turkey, KHRP is defending the rights of the owner of a small publishing firm, who complains that the Ankara State Security Court has refused to lift confiscation orders regarding his books in spite of recent legal reforms affecting the decision (Unsal Ozturk v. Turkey). KHRP has also been instructed in two new cases involving an award-winning campaign whereby supporters agree to be named as 'co-publishers' of banned articles, which are republished as a deliberate act of civil disobedience to protest censorship in Turkey. Over 80,000 people have participated in the campaign since 1995, many experiencing prosecution and harassment for their involvement. Both cases raise issues under the right to freedom of expression and to a fair trial (Articles 6 and 10) and pertain to Ragip Zarakolu, a participant in the campaign and leading anti-censorship campaigner (Yurdatapan v. Turkey (47248/99) and (70335/01)). These issues are raised in a further case in which KHRP was instructed in 2004, concerning the prosecution and alleged censorship of a man in State Security Courts (Muzaffer Akad v. Turkey (52693/99). Raising the equally important issue of alleged violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, KHRP lodged a new application to the ECtHR on 13 May 2004 concerning the dismissal of the applicant from his position as a research assistant at a university (Salih Ozturk v. Turkey).

KHRP has been developing its litigation concerning freedom of expression and assembly in Azerbaijan and Armenia, both of which only acceded to the ECHR in 2002. As some of the first cases to be considered by the ECtHR concerning these member states, these cases therefore have an enormous potential to establish benchmarks. One of these KHRP cases concerned two members of an opposition political party who were arrested while attending a political meeting in Azerbaijan (Guliyev and Ramazanov v. Azerbaijan (34553/02)). Following a detention in which they were held in unhygienic conditions and denied access to a lawyer or doctor, criminal proceedings were brought and they were indicted of resisting police and violating public order. The ECtHR held admissible their complaints that this had violated their rights to freedom of expression and of assembly (Articles 10 and 11). It adjourned examination of the complaints concerning the rights to a fair trial, freedom of expression and of assembly and discrimination on the grounds of political opinion (Articles 6, 10, 11 and 14).

Likewise, the ECtHR made one of its first admissibility decisions concerning freedom of expression in Armenia on 11 November 2004 (Noyan Tapan Ltd v. Armenia (37784/02)). The applicant is an independent Armenian news agency and television company. The ECtHR declared admissible its complaints over alleged violations of its rights to freedom of expression and to a fair trial were breached when government pressure resulted in the closure of a partner television station, and when the court dismissed the applicant's legal representative. Together with a new case submitted by KHRP on 27 August 2004 concerning another independent Armenian broadcasting company, Meltex Ltd, the cases are expected to establish landmark precedents concerning the freedom of the media in Armenia (Meltex Ltd v. Armenia).

A further new KHRP case submitted to the ECtHR in April 2004, concerns the detention and administrative penalty imposed on a man following his participation in a demonstration during the 2003 presidential elections in Armenia.



So abhorrent is the practice of torture and illtreatment that its prohibition in international law is absolute and does not allow exceptions. Torture or ill-treatment is commonly used to extract confessions from people during detentions - often people who are perceived to be a threat to the state, such as human rights defenders and opposition political candidates or representatives.

In 2004, KHRP obtained justice in two cases for applicants who alleged they had been subjected to torture or ill-treatment in Turkish authorities' custody. The first concerned Talat Tepe, a lawyer at the Istanbul Bar and, at the time, president of KHRP's partner organisation the Foundation for Social and Legal Studies (TOHAV) (Talat Tepe v. Turkey (31247/96)). He was taken into custody in Istanbul in July 1995, interrogated and subjected to torture or ill-treatment including beatings, electric shock equipment, blindfolding, verbal insults, hosing with cold water, being stripped naked and being deprived of food. His detention lasted for twelve days. No charges were brought against the offi cers involved. In subsequent legal proceedings against Tepe himself for alleged involvement with a banned organisation, he was acquitted for lack of evidence. Regrettably the ECtHR held there was insufficient evidence to show beyond reasonable doubt that the applicant had been subjected to such ill-treatment. Nonetheless it did find Turkey in multiple violations of the right to liberty and security and to an effective remedy for its failure to bring the applicant promptly before a judge and for failing to provide an effective remedy for challenging the lawfulness of the police detention in the State Security Court (Articles 5 and 13). On 2 November 2004, the ECtHR held that Turkish authorities had subjected the provincial leader of HADEP, a political party that had taken up the Kurdish issue, to torture and ill-treatment (Yaman v. Turkey (32446/96)). On 3 July 1995 Abdülsamet Yaman was taken into custody by police offi cers and was blindfolded, put into a car, beaten and threatened. He was taken to Adana Security Directorate where he was detained for nine days, during which time he was interrogated about his work and tortured. Five independent medical reports conducted between July 1995 and January 2002 concluded that he had sustained serious physical and mental injuries during this period of detention.

The Court held that there had been a violation of the prohibition of torture (Article 3). Finding that criminal proceedings taken against the police offi cers involved could not properly be described as thorough and effective, the Court held, unanimously, that there had also been a violation of Article 13. The Court could not accept that it was necessary to detain the applicant for nine days without judicial intervention and that therefore there had been a violation of Article 5. Judgments are not the only form of redress available to people who allege a violation of the prohibition of torture or ill-treatment. One KHRP applicant reached friendly settlement with the Turkish Government in 2004. This followed his application complaining that between March 1992 and February 1994, he was beaten up and intimidated, that his family were threatened, his shop raided and car damaged by the Turkish authorities or with their connivance on account of his activities in KHRP's partner organisation the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) and his Kurdish origin (Binbay v. Turkey (24922/94). "I would like to thank all KHRP staff members for their very good and impressive legal challenge at ECHR in my case over a decade. KHRP's work has been one of the good examples of the real legal challenge in international human rights mechanisms on behalf of the applicants."

Applicant Yavuz Binbay In the terms of the friendly settlement the Government made a declaration regretting the occurrence of threats and assaults against individuals during their detention and the failure of authorities to carry out effective investigations into such allegations. It also undertook to adopt all necessary measures to ensure that the rights guaranteed by Convention articles are respected in the future and agreed to an ex gratia payment to the applicant.

A new case submitted on 3 November 2004 concerns allegations of the use of torture and ill-treatment in detention as recently as February 2004 (Ilhan v. Turkey). The applicant, Mustafa Ilhan, was forced into a car by four policemen in a district of Istanbul. Upon arrival at their destination, the applicant was questioned for twelve hours about his and his brother's detention two months previously. Among other forms of ill-treatment, he was blindfolded, beaten with a truncheon, forced to kneel and beaten on the soles of his feet, threatened with rape and forced to listen to the cries of other detainees being tortured. He made several attempts to report the incident to authorities and to the public prosecutor, but the authorities took no action save for the referral of the applicant for a medical examination. The applicant therefore complains of violations of Articles 3, 5, 6 and 13. In 2004, KHRP was instructed in a further two new cases raising similar complaints concerning the alleged use of torture or ill-treatment by Turkish authorities (D.K.A. v. Turkey and Refik Bayav v. Turkey (7263/03).



A series of new KHRP cases submitted by KHRP in 2004 concern the administrative detentions and, for some, alleged ill-treatment experienced by opposition political candidates or representatives in Armenia. In Hakob Hakobyan & Others v. Armenia, KHRP represents three men who complain they were arrested and detained in order to prevent them from expressing their political opposition by attending a demonstration. In Tadevosyan v. Armenia, the applicant is the chairperson of the Armavir regional branch of the 'National Unity' party, one of the major opposition parties to the party in Government in Armenia. The application concerns the arrest and subsequent detention of the applicant on 5 April 2004 and again on 20 May 2004 following and preceding opposition party demonstrations held in April and May 2004. During detention the applicant maintains he was held in unbearable prison conditions and denied access to a lawyer. A third new case, Stepanyan v. Armenia (45081/04), concerns the arrest and subsequent detention on 20 May 2004 of the applicant, a board member of the National Democratic Union (NDU) political party and representative of the NDU in the region of Ararat.

The ECtHR made decisions of inadmissibility in two cases alleging the use of torture or illtreatment in 2004. The first, decided by the ECtHR on 9 July 2004, was declared inadmissible rationae temporis and concerned allegations of ill-treatment in the custody of Azerbaijan authorities (Behbudov v. Azerbaijan (209/03). The second concerned allegations of ill-treatment in the case of a conviction, by an Ankara court, of a police offi cer for bribery in spite of a police investigation report which had exonerated him (Selcuk v. Turkey (6671/03).


Many of KHRP's cases raise the issue that an applicant's trial within domestic courts had been unfair, however the culmination of one case in particular in 2004 caught international attention by providing applicants with new legal remedies, such as the possibility of receiving new domestic retrials.

In June 2004, KHRP applicants Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Selim Sedak and Orhan Dogan were released after a decade of imprisonment, following a decision from the Supreme Court that their retrial had been unfair.

The applicants were elected to parliament in October 1991. In 1993 they joined DEP, a party which, in Zana's words, sought to bring about "reconciliation between Kurds and Turks". During their inauguration as members of parliament in 1991, Zana and Dicle made brief speeches in the Kurdish language and wore the traditional Kurdish colours of red, green and yellow. This provoked uproar in the parliamentary chamber and legal proceedings were initiated against them, leading to their eventual conviction on the charge of membership of an illegal armed organisation. International organisations, EU bodies and parliamentarians around the world sent their support to the decision to release the MPs. Many MPs congratulated KHRP for the assistance given to the parliamentarians in taking their cases to the ECtHR, which ruled in July 2001 that they 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. In February 2003, Turkey passed a legal reform granted a right to defendants to have a retrial where the ECtHR has ruled that the original trial was unfair. The Ankara State Security Court retried the parliamentarians in 2003 and, in 2004, confirmed the initial verdict which led to the parliamentarians' imprisonment. The retrial was widely criticised by observers, including a KHRP trial observation mission, for repeating the same iniquities of the first trials.

The release of the parliamentarians not only represented a significant landmark towards improved Kurdish-Turkish relations, but also opens the door to new legal remedies for potentially thousands of people who have received an unfair trial in Turkish courts. In improving legal remedies on the ground, this case and others have undoubtedly made a lasting improvement to access to justice in Turkey's legal and political landscape.



KHRP motivates the rule of law and democracy in the regions by transferring skills and building capacity among domestic human rights defenders and advocates in the regions. This is facilitated through a coherent programme of practical and theoretical regional training seminars, the dissemination of training materials and by offering subsidised internships to lawyers and human rights advocates from the regions. When KHRP was established in 1992, not a single case concerning the Kurdish regions had been submitted to or adjudicated by the ECtHR. The number of cases now originating from the Kurdish regions has now increased dramatically, growing by 23 per cent each year between 1998 and 2002. With years of experience of working with local partners and of providing human rights training in Turkey and Eastern Europe (including Ukraine, Albania and Kosovo), KHRP provides invaluable instruction on the remedies available for human rights violations to affected communities on the ground.

In 2004, KHRP held eight regional trainings and seminar programmes across Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, attended by lawyers, advocates and women's rights groups. Topics covered included the ECHR and UN mechanisms and focused on advocating women's rights, minority rights in international conventions and on reform in the ECtHR.

Seminars were complemented by individual assistance with particular case work and in-house advice as required. All participants were also provided with supplementary training materials in English, Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian or Azeri as appropriate, as well as other relevant publications. "KHRP has pioneered the use of international human rights mechanisms in the fight for the human rights of the Kurdish and Turkish people. By sharing their knowledge with us through training programmes, we become more empowered in our own fight against human rights violations," wrote one human rights advocate following a training seminar in 2004.

Currently, it is particularly crucial to raise awareness of the ECHR amongst human rights defenders in Azerbaijan and Armenia, as these countries only recently became signatories to the Convention when they acceded to the Council of Europe.

Some lawyers and human rights defenders from the regions are provided the opportunity to undertake a subsidised internship at KHRP's offi ce for between three and six months. These interns are encouraged to participate fully in casework and, where possible, are provided with the opportunity to participate in international advocacy in Strasbourg, Brussels or Geneva. They also gain an opportunity to improve their English and to experience the operation of a human rights organisation in a democracy. In 2004, KHRP hosted two interns from Turkey, one from Azerbaijan and another from Armenia. Another was hosted from Turkey who assisted in organising a seminar on women's rights. Since returning to their own local organisations, they continue to maintain contact with KHRP for collaboration, outreach and legal expertise.


This training, held in association with the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the 'Forum' Law Centre (Armenia), was attended by eighteen human rights lawyers and advocates and focused on the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 9) and freedom of expression (Article 10)

AZERBAIJAN - Baku, August 2004

This training was attended by twenty Kurdish and Azerbaijani lawyers and eleven human rights activists and focused on the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions (Article 1 of Protocol No. 1) and the reform of the ECtHR (new Protocol 14)

TURKEY - Istanbul, March 2004

Held in association with the Foundation for Social and Legal Studies (TOHAV), this training was attended by 35 human rights advocates and focused on the application of the ECHR and UN mechanisms generally

TURKEY - Diyarbakir, March 2004

Held in association with the Human Rights Association (IHD), Diyarbakir Bar Association, Contemporary Lawyers' Association and Mazlum-Der Diyarbakir branch, this training was attended by 40 human rights advocates and focused on the application of the ECHR and UN mechanisms generally


This training programme, held in association with the Human Rights Association (IHD), Diyarbakir Bar Association, Contemporary Lawyers' Association and Mazlum-Der Diyarbakir branch, was attended by 40 human rights advocates

TURKEY - Istanbul, September 2004

This training programme, held in association with the Foundation for Social and Legal Studies (TOHAV) and the Contemporary Lawyers' Association, was attended by 40 human rights advocates


This training presented for many their first encounter with education concerning women's rights under ECHR and UN mechanisms, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. It was attended by forty people representing 27 different women's and human rights organisations from across the Kurdish regions

ARMENIA - Yerevan, July 2004

This training focusing on women's rights under ECHR and UN mechanisms, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women also included training on the ECHR reform and Article 11, and was attended by twenty human rights lawyers and activists.