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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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Judgment Given on 2 September 1998

Background to the case:
The case originates in a complaint by Esref Yasa - a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin - that his uncle - Hasim Yasa - was shot dead by members of the Turkish police in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey on 14 June 1993. Esref Yasa was himself seriously injured in the incident. At the time of the incident, the Applicant and his uncle were newspaper vendors operating out of a kiosk in Diyarbakir.

Principal facts of the case:
In November 1992, Mr Esref Yasa and Hasim Yasa were visited by two police officers from the Diyarbakir Security Headquarters and told that their kiosk would be burnt down, on account of the fact that they sold certain (pro-Kurdish) newspapers, such as Ozgur Gundem and Ozgur Halk. One week later their kiosk was indeed set on fire and destroyed.

In January 1993, Mr Esref Yasa was shot at and injured by people he submits were members of the police. Despite lodging a complaint he was never asked to make a statement about this crime by the Turkish authorities.
On 14 June 1993, Mr Hasim Yasa was shot and killed by unknown assailants, his seven-year old son being the only witness to the incident. Later that same day, police arrested Esref Yasa and threatened him with death. Mr Esref Yasa was told by the police that they had carried out the shooting and that he was the intended target.

The Turkish government has denied any wrongdoing for which the State authorities might be responsible. An investigation by the Diyarbakir public prosecutor into the killing of Hasim Yasa and the shooting of Esref Yasa, which was commenced in 1993, is still pending.

The exact nature of the complaint:
Mr Esref Yasa complained to the European Commission of Human Rights of violations of his human rights under the European Convention of Human Rights. His application was declared partly admissible by the European Commission of Human Rights on 3 April 1995.

In particular, Mr Esref Yasa complained of violations of his rights under the following articles:

Article 2 - on account of the killing of Hasim Yasa and the shooting of Esref Yasa.
Article 3 - on account of the death threats which the applicant was subjected to by the police.
Article 6 - on account of the fact that the applicants' complaints of ill treatment, the shooting of the applicant and the killing of his uncle had not been investigated.
Article 10 - on account of the fact that the attack on the applicant and his uncle was part of a campaign aimed at repressing the distribution of certain (pro-Kurdish) newspapers such as Ozgur Gundem and Ozgur.
Article 13 - on account of the fact that the applicant was unable to seek redress for his complaints before a national court.
Article 14 - on account of the fact that the applicant and his uncle had been discriminated against because of their ethnic background.
Article 18 - on account of the fact that the Turkish government had restricted his human rights in a way which contravenes the European Convention of Human Rights.

On 8 April 1997, the European Commission of Human Rights expressed the opinion in its Article 31 Report that Mr Yasa's right under Articles 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. On 21 April 1998, the European Court of Human Rights conducted its final hearing in this case. A judgment is expected later this year.

The Court's Judgement:

On 2 September the European Court found a violation of Article 2 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As concerns Article 2, the Court found it established that the Turkish authorities had failed to carry out an adequate investigation of Mr Yasa's complaints. In particular, the Court was 'struck by the fact that the investigatory authorities appear to have excluded from the outset the possibility that State agents might have been implicated in the attacks'. In short, the Court concluded that since 'no concrete and credible progress has been made, the investigations cannot be considered to have been effective as required by Article 2'.
As concerns Article 13, the Court found that although 'the authorities had an obligation to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances of the attacks… …five years after those attacks took place, the investigations have still not produced any results'.

The Applicant was awarded £6,000 for non-pecuniary damage and £12,000 for costs and expenses.