Lawyers for the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan have applied to the United Nations ahead of an approaching deadline given to Turkey by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) in relation to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings on aggravated life sentences of certain political prisoners, including that of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, Fırat News Agency reported.
The CoE in December of last year requested that Turkey implement certain measures in the case of Abdullah Öcalan, who is being kept in isolation in İmralı Prison by way of numerous disciplinary punishments and without the right to release. The Turkish government were supposed to have acted, taking measures to eliminate prisoner rights violations in relation to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings, mainly on aggravated jail terms, and had been instructed to also submit a progress report by September of this year.
Speaking to Firat News Agency on the progress in Öcalan’s case, his lawyer Özgür Erol said that Turkey’s response will likely be vague since the authorities had not implemented any of the measures requested by the CoE.
“They will probably try to make it seem like they made some regulations by making use of some loopholes in the law,” Erol said.
Commenting on the isolation and disciplinary punishments imposed upon Öcalan, Erol said that a system that prevented lawyers from seeking their client’s rights has been established.
“This is a regime of torture and mistreatment,” he said.
On the actions of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), which has prepared reports on Öcalan’s prison conditions in the past, the lawyer said that both the CPT and the ECHR have been trying to avoid the PKK leader’s case.
“Both the Committee of Ministers and the ECHR accept CPT’s reports as first-degree references. However, the tendency is, mainly of the CPT and ECHR, to follow, but avoid the realities of İmralı,” Erol said, as he criticised the CPT for not visiting the prison despite being aware of the isolation practices.
“This is a choice. Their most recent visit was in 2019,” he added.
Saying that although the CPT is still obviously significant, Erol noted that they will have to seek other international avenues, especially the United Nations’ Human Rights mechanisms.
“We completed our official application last month. We will see the results,” the lawyer said.