The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday ruled in favour of Elif Kaya, whose family was banned from visiting her for a month in a Turkish detention centre because she resisted a strip search when she was taken into custody during the Gezi protests in 2013.
The court ordered Turkey to pay her compensation of 12,500 euros for violating article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states that ‘everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence’ and ‘there shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society’.
Elif Kaya was detained in Turkey’s western city of İzmir during mass protests that first started in İstanbul over an attempt by state authorities to cut down trees in Gezi Park near Taksim Square, and became widespread in response to the ensuing police violence. She was a 22-year-old university student at the time. She was charged for ‘being a member of an illegal organisation’.
After Kaya was banned from receiving family visits for a month because of her objection to the strip search by prison authorities, she started a legal process that would go on for years and end up with the rejection of her complaint by the Turkish Constitutional Court in 2017, after which she lodged her application with the ECHR.
According to the ECHR, the Constitutional Court had failed to make assessments as to the proportionality of the prison administration’s disciplinary action, and the impact of the disciplinary action on Kaya’s private life during her detention term.
Security camera footage showing Kaya with prison guards and other officials at Şakran Women’s Prison at the time she was forced into strip search had earlier been leaked to media outlets and posted on the Internet.