Four NGOs from Turkey filed an appeal at the European Council Committee of Ministers on 29 July for an urgent review of the situation concerning the long-expected implementation of a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling on the execution of aggravated life sentence in Turkey.
The 2014 ECHR ruling (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26638002), in the case of Öcalan versus Turkey, had concluded that the solitary confinement imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the sentence that disallowed any possibility of conditional release, constituted a violation of the third article of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The related article on the “prohibition of torture” indicates that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The four NGOs which filed an appeal for an urgent review of the situation – marked by Turkey’s inactivity in implementing the ruling – were the Association of Human Rights (İHD), the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), the Foundation for Society and Legal Studies (TOHAV) and the Association of Law Practitioners for Freedom (ÖHD).
Speaking to MA, TOHAV Board member Ayşe Bingöl Demir explained that the European Council Committee of Ministers was a body overseeing the implementation of ECHR rulings by member states, and they believed the Committee needed to take steps, given the inaction on Turkey’s side.
“One step is making certain demands from Turkey,” she said, and added: “Turkey has to present a roadmap concerning how the court ruling will be implemented.”
“There’s no proposal from Turkey. There’s no step taken,” she continued. “There is no change in legislation. Motions on this subject are rejected. The Constitutional Court makes no new ruling. So the Committee of Ministers should take steps, and go ahead with new ones if Turkey insists on not implementing the court ruling.”
She pointed out that there were more than a thousand prisoners serving aggravated life sentences in Turkey, and the related ECHR ruling had great significance.
“The officials in Turkey tend to think that rulings on human rights violations can be simply responded by paying compensations. But this is not the case,” she said.
“After a ruling, depending on the legal argument and content of the ruling, the cause behind the violation has to be eliminated. The ruling in Öcalan vs. Türkiye case that the aggravated life sentence was a violation of the 3rd article ought to lead to a reassessment on Turkey’s side.”
Demir also underlined that the European Council Commitee of Ministers should work more transparently. “The process should be transparent, and not carried out just through dialogue within the Committee. It should also be accessible to NGOs, lawyers and plaintiffs,” she said.