4 April 2008


ECHR orders compensation for Izmir human rights activist convicted over statement on US military involvement in Afghanistan

Incident details

Mihriban Karakaya, Ecevit Piroglu

human rights worker(s)

(BIANET/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 27 March 2008 BIANET statement:

ECHR Sentences Turkey in IHD Case

Turkey has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to pay 1,000 YTL (approx. 500 euros) in compensation in a ruling on appeals brought by two human rights activists from the Izmir branch of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD).

After considering the case brought by Ecevit Piroglu and Mihriban Karakaya, representatives of the Izmir branch of the IHD, the ECHR has ruled that Turkey did not respect the right to defence, attempted to close the IHD Izmir branch without any justification, and violated the two activists' right to freedom of expression.

The ECHR announced its decision on 18 March 2008. The court decreed unanimously that Articles 6/1, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.

The applicants were both members of the executive board of the Izmir branch of the IHD in 2001, when the violations occurred.

Their appeal had to do with their joint 2001 conviction for having failed to comply with a request by the governor of Izmir to annul memberships of their association, as well as Karakaya's separate conviction for a press statement on US troop deployment in Afghanistan.

(. . .)

Karakaya also complained to the ECHR about a second criminal conviction for having been involved in a press statement protesting the deployment of American troops in Afghanistan.

In October 2001, the IHD and several local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) took part in a movement called the "Platform of Conscientious Objectors to War" and made a collective press statement protesting the deployment.

A second set of criminal proceedings were brought against Karakaya, under Section 34 of the Associations Act for her involvement with that movement, as the prosecutor considered that it was an organisation without any legal status in Turkey.

Karakaya was ultimately found guilty in December 2001. She lodged an objection to her conviction, arguing in particular that "a collective press statement" could not be classified as contributing to the establishment of an unlawful organisation. In February 2002 the criminal court dismissed her objection.

(. . .)

The Court concluded that the interference with Karakaya's freedom of expression (by charging her with contributing to the establishment of an illegal organisation for merely having participated in the press statement criticising US troop deployment to Afghanistan) had not been prescribed by law, and therefore it violated Article 10 of the Convention.

For the complete text of the BIANET statement, see: http://www.bianet.org/english/kategori/english/105726/echr-sentences-turkey-in-ihd-case


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