The ‘Turkey Tribunal’, a European initiative to assess and report about allegations of human rights violations in Turkey, begins work in Geneva, Switzerland, where a panel of judges will work for five days to deliberate upon presentation of various documents and testimonials, and draft the verdicts, which will be finalised on 24 September in a session headed by the President of the Court, Prof. Em. Dr. Françoise Barones Tulkens, the Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
It is stated on the Website of the Tribunal that “in recent years, human rights violations have increasingly been reported in Turkey”, “with various international bodies and courts having confirmed this, sometimes even in very sharp terms”.
“That is why we have taken the initiative to set up a ‘Turkey Tribunal’, it stated, adding that although the tribunal is not a legally binding body, the ruling of the tribunal will have high moral authority.
The sessions of the court will be monitored by observers, amongst whom there are two lawmakers from the European Parliament: Marie Arena, a Belgian politician and the chairwoman of European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, and Kathleen Van Brempt, a member of the European Parliament as part of the Party of European Socialists since 2009.
The observers will monitor the proceedings to follow the rules of procedure and to check if all participants (rapporteurs, witnesses, government, third parties) can express themselves freely and are treated in a fair way. If the observers notice something that is not going according to the principles and rules of procedure, they are expected to inform the registrar. Afterwards the registrar will immediately inform the president and, if needed, and instant consultation will be organised.
There are a number of issues that the tribunal will focus on, including torture, abduction, violations of press freedom, violations of freedom of expression and association, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary system, access to justice and effective judicial protection.
The Tribunal will try to determine if there is a pattern in the facts underlying torture testimonies, and what is the highest level of state involvement in these cases, also trying to reach a conclusion if there is a systematic and organised use of torture in Turkey.
It will try to answer the question about whether abductions are a part of the actions of the state used towards members of the opposition and if any serious inquiry has been organised regarding these cases?
It will also try to determine if Turkey can be regarded as a country with a sufficient degree of press freedom and freedom of expression in compliance with standards of a functioning democracy.
It will evaluate whether the judicial system of Turkey corresponds to internationally protected standards of independence and impartiality, and if that system ensures full access to justice and effective judicial protection in case of human rights violations.
Several reports have been prepared since September 2020 on the issues to be focused upon at the Tribunal.
The reports, available for download, include “Impunity in Turkey Today” (September 2020) by Yves Haeck and Emre Turkut, “Judicial Independence & Access to Justice” (February 2021) by Luca Perilli, “Torture in Turkey Today” (March 2021) by Eric Sottas and Johan Vande Lanotte, “Abductions in Turkey Today” (July 2021) by Johan Heymans, “Press Freedom in Turkey Today” (July 2021) by Philippe Leruth, “Crimes Against Humanity under the Rome Statute in Turkey Today” (August 2021) by Prof. Dr. Em. Johan Vande Lanotte.
The Tribunal can be viewed live on Youtube.