The Human Rights Association (İHD) and Diyarbakır (Amed) Bar Association stated that members of Turkey’s judiciary who did not act in accordance with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) were committing a crime. They appealed to Turkey’s Minister of Justice, Abdulhamit Gül, to do what is necessary to ensure compliance with the ECHR’s decisions.
Between 21-23 January, a committee consisting of executives of the Diyarbakır Bar Association and IHD’s Diyarbakır Branch visited former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politician Gültan Kışanak, former HDP co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ, Sebahat Tuncel and other women prisoners who were imprisoned in Kandıra Number 1 F-type Closed Prison. Bekir Kaya, Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Osman Kavala, Ahmet Altan in Silivri Prison, former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and former HDP deputy Abdullah Zeydan in Edirne F-type Prison were also visited by the committee.
The commitee issued a statement about their meetings with the imprisoned politicians. According to Mesopotamia Agency, the committee stated that isolation conditions in prisons had intensified during the Covid-19 outbreak and after the hunger strike was launched by political prisoners in the country.
It reported that written documents, including the personal notes of prisoners, were seized by the prison administration recently. It added that the prisoners were “deprived of the right to respond to the claims levelled against them. The women politicians had accusation files placed against them in this manner and their right to a fair trial was being additionally violated in this manner”.
The double-standards of the Turkish judiciary
The committee also stated that the topic that was most discussed during their meetings was the fact that the Turkish judiciary was exercising double-standards regarding the way it treated ‘dissenters’, especially Kurdish ones in Turkey. Such behaviour by Turkey’s judiciary violated national and international legislation.
The committee added: “Frequently pointing out they were arbitrarily held in prison due to their political activities and ideas, they expressed their concerns on the politicization of justice. It was frequently noted by them that the legal security of citizens was removed under circumstances where the courts in Turkey did not recognise even the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the ECHR”. The committee stated that thousands of people in Turkey were in a similar situation to the people they visited. Thousands of people had been imprisoned as a consequence of court decisions that were politically motivated rather than applying the principles of international legislation.
Appeal to the Minister of Justice
The committee concluded by stating: “We wish to emphasize that the cases of Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala – who were not released despite the decision made by the ECHR – points to arbitrariness as well. It indicates a crime being committed by members of the judiciary who have refused to act on the ECHR’s decision in terms of its punitive and administrative aspects”. It appealed to Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül to act and do what was necessary to those members of the judiciary who were refusing to abide by the ECHR’s ruling. The committee also called upon the authorities to release people whose rights to a fair trial had been violated.