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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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In a judgment delivered on the 18th December 1996 the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkish security forces were responsible for the torture of Zeki Aksoy in detention in November 1992. In the case of Aksoy v Turkey (Application No 21987/93), the Court held that Turkey was in breach of Article 3, Article 5(3) and Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The applicant, who was Kurdish and from southeast Turkey, was detained in Mardin by security forces on the 24th November 1992. During his 14 -day detention he was subjected to severe torture including beatings, electric shocks, hosing with cold water and Palestinian hanging (suspension by the arms which have been tied behind the back ), as a result which he lost the use of his hands and arms. The Court confirmed the Commissions findings of fact and that this treatment was of such a serious nature as to amount to "torture" in violation of Article 3.

The Court found that the length of detention in this case was excessive and in breach of Article 5(3) of the Convention which requires that detainees be brought "promptly" before a judicial authority. Under Turkish law period of detention of up to 30 days are permitted in the state of emergency in force in southeast Turkey. The Court found that the 14 day period of detention in question in this case was exceptionally long and insufficient safeguards were provided.

The Court awarded the full amount of compensation sought "in view of the extremely serious violations of the Convention suffered by Mr. Zeki Aksoy" and also awarded legal costs.

Following the communication of Zeki Aksoy's application to the European Commission he was threatened with death and on the 16th April he was shot dead. Zeki Aksoy's father continued with the case. The applicant was assisted in bringing his application by the Kurdish Human Rights Project and the IHD, Turkey. He was represented before the Court by Professor Kevin Boyle and Ms Francoise Hampson.

Unfortunately the case of Zeki Aksoy is far from an isolated incident. The widespread nature of the practice of torture in places of detention in Turkey has been recognised by among others the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Committee Against Torture and most recently the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture which issued a Public Statement on Turkey on the 6th December 1996 describing the practice of torture as "a common-place occurrence" in places of detention in Turkey.

The case of Aksoy v Turkey is one in a series of cases assisted by the Kurdish Human Rights Project. The KHRP has so far assisted over 400 individuals to make applications to the European Commission and Court. Kerim Yildiz the Executive Director of the KHRP said "Today's decision of the court is an important vindication of the rights of the applicant and his family to a remedy. We hope that this decision will encourage the Turkish government to implement legislative reforms to short periods of detention and introduce safeguards so as to bring an end the widespread practice of torture in Turkey." The absence of effective remedies in Turkey, and particularly in southeast Turkey means that for many victims of human rights abuses in Turkey, international human rights mechanisms provide the only available avenue of redress. The KHRP will continue to assist victims of torture and other human rights abuses in making complaints to the European Commission and Court of Human Rights.