Turkey’s adherence to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s decision regarding the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader, is not only binding due to Turkey’s international commitments but also critical for the evolution of Turkish law towards democracy, peace, and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, lawyer Cengiz Yürekli told Mezopotamya Agency on Friday.
The UN’s decision, which Yürekli, a lawyer representing Öcalan, claims has exposed the torture imposed on Öcalan by the Turkish government, “is not just a directive but a reflection of the international human rights standards Turkey has committed to uphold. Ignoring this decision not only undermines these standards but also hampers Turkey’s journey towards a more democratic and rights-respecting legal framework.”
Öcalan has been in solitary confinement at Turkey’s İmralı F Type High Security Prison for 24 years, with no contact with his lawyers since 7 August 2019. The UN Committee’s decision followed appeals by Öcalan’s lawyers to international bodies, including the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Council of Europe, and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The UN accepted the precautionary measures and ruled that the applicants should be allowed to meet their preferred lawyers without any restrictions. However, Turkey has failed to implement this decision.
“The silence and inaction of the Turkish government in the face of the UN’s decision is concerning. It’s a matter that goes beyond Öcalan’s individual case and touches on the broader issues of judicial independence and human rights adherence in Turkey,” Yürekli added.
“The UN’s decision is binding because Turkey has become a party to these agreements of the UN. The decision, although not as authoritative and effective as an ECHR decision, has the same binding nature and the same ability to identify and expose issues. Turkey’s government must comply with its laws and international law, ending the current state of incommunicado and allowing our clients immediate access to their lawyers,” Yürekli further explained, arguing that the current unlawful practices in Turkey’s penal law were first implemented in İmralı and now shape the entire penal law of Turkey.
He also referenced the UN prison rules dedicated to Nelson Mandela, stating, “These rules, framed as a respect to Mandela, dictate what governments should not practice in prisons. It’s almost like an atonement for the conditions Mandela endured. No government would want to be associated with violating these standards.”