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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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Council of Europe says "no significant improvement" in Turkey’s human rights record

On 9th June 1999, in an unprecedented move, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted an interim resolution condemning human rights abuses committed by the Turkish security forces in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.

The Committee refers to thirteen cases adjudicated by the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers between 1996 and 1998, where serious violations of the European Convention on Human Rights were found to have taken place, all in consequence of actions by the security forces in the south east of Turkey. Twelve of these cases were brought by individual applicants with the assistance of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, namely: Akdivar and others v Turkey (village destruction case), Aksoy v Turkey (detention and torture), Cetin v Turkey (denial of right to effective remedy), Aydin v Turkey (rape while in detention), Mentes and others v Turkey (village destruction), Kaya v Turkey (extra-judicial killing), Selcuk and Asker v Turkey (destruction of homes), Kurt v Turkey (extra judicial killing), Tekin v Turkey (ill-treatment in custody), Ergi v Turkey (village destruction), Yilmaz and others v Turkey (destruction of homes), and Yasa v Turkey (extra-judicial killing).

The Committee’s resolution notes that while steps have been taken within Turkey to train the members of the security forces to show respect for human rights, and while some changes have been made to the criminal procedures:

  • investigations into the human rights violations disclosed by the European Convention cases "have as yet not given concrete and satisfactory results"
  • "still, more than two years after the first judgments of the European Court of Human Rights denouncing the serious violations of the human rights at issue here, the information provided to the Committee of Ministers does not indicate any significant improvement of the situation with regard to offences falling within the jurisdiction of the state security courts and/or committed in the regions subject to a state of emergency"
  • "efficient criminal investigations will require an important reform of criminal procedure in Turkey"

The Kurdish Human Rights Project also notes that there are currently close to 2,500 outstanding applications against Turkey under the European Convention of Human Rights, including numerous allegations of extra-judicial killing, torture, village destruction and improper detention brought by applicants from the Kurdish regions. There have been more applications against Turkey than against any other country in the Council of Europe.

The Kurdish Human Rights Project supports the recommendations and conclusions of the Committee’s report, calling on Turkey to

  • continue to train members of the security forces in order to ensure respect for human rights in the performance of their duties
  • reform the present system of criminal proceedings against the security forces
  • ensure rapid reparation for victims of human rights committed by the security forces
  • continue to raise awareness and improve the training of judges and prosecutors

The Kurdish Human Rights Project hopes that this resolution will encourage the Turkish government to work with the international community and non-governmental organisations to ensure respect for human rights throughout the country in order to bring an end to the cycle of abuse which has brought misery to the Kurdish regions for so long.