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31.12.2007 - Source: UK Home Office

State Security Courts (Devlet Güvenlik Mahkemesi) ("Country of Origin Information Report; Turkey") [ID 24665]

"10.15 The Freedom House report ‘Countries at the Crossroads 2005 – Turkey’, noted that:

“Another [in addition to the introduction of the new penal code in September 2004] major change to the justice system has been the May 2004 abolition of State Security Courts. These courts, comprising both civilian and military judges, tried cases against the integrity of the state and had been accused of human rights abuses and an absence of due process…The cases formerly under their jurisdiction have been passed to other courts. The end of the State Security Courts is widely considered to be positive, although it remains to be seen whether the types of cases formerly tried in them will be any better served by the new system.” [62c] (p13)

10.16 Amnesty International’s Summary of Concerns September 2004 stated that, “Human rights defenders welcomed the move to abolish the much criticized State Security Courts, but strongly urged that the establishment of special heavy penal courts which would deal with organized crime, ‘terrorism’ and crimes deemed to endanger state security be more than simply a change of name for the same institution.” [12l] (p56)

10.17 The September 2006 Amnesty International’s (AI) report “Turkey Justice Delayed and Denied” noted that:

“In the context of a package of reforms to the Constitution passed in June 2004, the State Security Courts were formally abolished. The move was heralded by
the government as a ‘turning point’. After some uncertainty about their new name, the State Security Courts were transformed into Heavy Penal Courts. Heavy Penal Courts (ağır ceza mahkemeleri) already existed within the regular judicial system, but those that replaced the former State Security Courts were only competent to try cases involving organized crime, terrorism and state security.Though nominally integrated into the regular judicial system, these courts did not in fact deal with cases outside those areas… The new special Heavy Penal Courts thus continued to try cases that had started before them when they were State Security Courts.” [12c]

10.18 The AI 2006 report further stated that:

“Judges and prosecutors of the special Heavy Penal Courts are often the same individuals who presided over the same cases when they were before the State Security Courts, and lawyers have consistently complained to Amnesty International that there has been no change to the panel of judges they encounter during trial hearings. The new courts are still widely known by their old name. A large backlog of cases from the State Security Courts was thus transferred to the special Heavy Penal Courts and the main argument of this report is that the new courts have failed to confront some of the most serious violations of the right to fair trial perpetuated in the earlier courts.” [12c]"

Document(s): Open document

06.09.2006 - Source: Amnesty International

State Security Courts (facts; comparison with military courts; failure to meet international standards of independence and impartiality; unfair trials) ("Justice Delayed and Denied: The persistence of protracted and unfair trials for those charged under anti-terrorism legislation [EUR 44/013/2006]") [ID 18535]

"Under a new Constitution in 1982, the then military government established State Security Courts (Devlet Güvenlik Mahkemeleri) to try cases involving crimes against the security of the state, and organized crime. The State Security Courts began to operate from May 1984 and replaced military courts which had been in operation during the martial law period. They did not differ substantially from military courts and most judges in the new courts had gained their experience from military courts. The main difference was that these courts were not within military compounds and existed only in eight (of then 67 and now 81) provinces.

In April 1991 the Law to Fight Terrorism (law no. 3713) entered into force and cases involving crimes against the security of the state were now punishable under this law. Individuals tried under the new anti-terrorism legislation now faced prison terms twice as long as those for comparable offences by ordinary criminal prisoners.

Like the military court system, State Security Courts also failed to meet international standards of independence and impartiality. The panel of three judges in each State Security Court included a military judge. As armed forces officers, such military judges remained dependent on the military for salary and pension, subject to military discipline and therefore not independent of military control. In a number of cases the European Court of Human Rights has found the presence of military judges in the State Security Courts to be a violation of the fair trial principles set out in Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). The removal of military judges from the State Security Courts was prompted primarily by the trial of Abdullah Öcalan, captured leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, PKK). Concerned that the European Court of Human Rights might also find the trial of Abdullah Öcalan (whose first hearing was on 31 May 1999) unfair on these grounds, the then Turkish government took the step of removing the military judge from the bench. Because the European Court of Human Rights has generally taken as its focus the presence of military judges in the State Security Courts to find a violation of fair trial principles spelled out under Article 6(1) of the ECHR, it has hardly ever dealt with other aspects of fair trial violations such as length of proceedings, also regulated in Article 6(1).

In general, however, the removal of military judges failed to guarantee fair trials before State Security Courts. Civilian judges and prosecutors in these courts continued the same abusive practices and procedures. As with the military courts, evidence used in the State Security Courts was overwhelmingly confession-based with insufficient attention paid to other forms of evidence gathering, and convictions were often based on statements by defendants and witnesses allegedly obtained under torture or other ill-treatment."

Document(s): Report
Press release [EUR 44/014/2006]

06.09.2006 - Source: Amnesty International

State Security Courts formally abolished in June 2004 and transformed into Heavy Penal Courts ("Justice Delayed and Denied: The persistence of protracted and unfair trials for those charged under anti-terrorism legislation [EUR 44/013/2006]") [ID 18536]

"In the context of a package of reforms to the Constitution passed in June 2004, the State Security Courts were formally abolished. The move was heralded by the government as a "turning point". After some uncertainty about their new name, the State Security Courts were transformed into Heavy Penal Courts. Heavy Penal Courts (ağır ceza mahkemeleri) already existed within the regular judicial system, but those that replaced the former State Security Courts were only competent to try cases involving organized crime, terrorism and state security. Though nominally integrated into the regular judicial system, these courts did not in fact deal with cases outside those areas. Since the entering into law of a new Criminal Procedure Code on 1 June 2005, the official name for these courts has been "Heavy Penal Courts (competent to examine crimes under article 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code)". Simply to distinguish them from the regular system of Heavy Penal Courts not competent to deal with terrorist offences or organized crime, this report will term the new courts "special Heavy Penal Courts". Since this report concerns trials of those suspected of politically motivated crimes, there is no discussion here of organized crime which also falls under the competence of the special Heavy Penal Courts.

The new special Heavy Penal Courts thus continued to try cases that had started before them when they were State Security Courts."

Document(s): Report
Press release [EUR 44/014/2006]

10.2005 - Source: UK Home Office

State Security Courts ("Country Report - October 2005") [#40563][ID 13309]

"5.52 In April 2004 the Turkish Daily News reported that the Government proposed 10 amendments to articles of the constitution. One of these changes was annulling Article 143 and the abolition of State Security Courts. [23n] The Constitution package was approved by Parliament on the 7 May 2004 and sent to the President. [23o]

5.53 The Freedom House report ‘Countries at the Crossroads 2005 – Turkey, noted that:

“Another [in addition to the introduction of the new penal code in September 2004] major change to the justice system has been the May 2004 abolition of State Security Courts. These courts, comprising both civilian and military judges, tried cases against the integrity of the state and had been accused of human rights abuses and an absence of due process…The cases formerly under their jurisdiction have been passed to other courts. The end of the State Security Courts is widely considered to be positive, although it remains to be seen whether the types of cases formerly tried in them will be any better served by the new system.” [62c] (p13)

5.54 As stated by the European Commission 2004:

“As part of the package of constitutional amendments adopted in May 2004, the State Security Courts were abolished. Jurisdiction over most of the crimes falling within the competence of the State Security Courts – principally organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorist offences – has been transferred to newly-created regional Serious Felony Courts. Some crimes formerly heard by the State Security Courts, notably under Article 312 of the Penal Code, have been transferred to the jurisdiction of the existing Serious Felony Courts…. The office of the Chief Public Prosecutor for State Security Courts was also abolished; prosecutions before the Regional Serious Felony Court are handled by the office of the Chief Public Prosecutor. Suspects before both types of Serious Felony Courts enjoy identical rights, including the right to consult a lawyer as soon as they are taken into custody.” [71c] (p24)

5.55 Amnesty International’s Summary of Concerns September 2004 stated that “Human rights defenders welcomed the move to abolish the much criticized State Security Courts, but strongly urged that the establishment of special heavy penal courts which would deal with organized crime, ‘terrorism’ and crimes deemed to endanger state security be more than simply a change of name for the same institution.” [12l] (p56)"

Document(s): Open document

06.10.2004 - Source: European Commission

State Security Courts abolished ("Regular Report 2004 on Turkey´s progress towards accession") [#26161][ID 13310]

"As part of the package of constitutional amendments adopted in May 2004, the State Security Courts were abolished. Jurisdiction over most of the crimes falling within the competence of the State Security Courts – principally organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorist offences – has been transferred to newly-created regional Serious Felony Courts. Some crimes formerly heard by the State Security Courts, notably under Article 312 of the Penal Code, have been transferred to the jurisdiction of the existing Serious Felony Courts. The rules of procedure applying by the Regional Serious Felony Courts are identical to those applied by other Serious Felony Courts save that the former courts exercise jurisdiction over a wider geographic area and the maximum period which can elapse between detention and charge is forty-eight rather than twenty-four hours. The office of the Chief Public Prosecutor for State Security Courts was also abolished; prosecutions before the Regional Serious Felony Court are handled by the office of the Chief Public Prosecutor. Suspects before both types of Serious Felony Courts enjoy identical rights, including the right to consult a lawyer as soon as they are taken into custody."

Document(s): Open document
Open document

21.06.2003 - Source: Schweizerische Flüchtlingshilfe

Staatssicherheits-Gerichte verletzen mit ihren Urteilen teilweise nach wie vor grundlegende rechtliche Grundsätze, fällen zum Teil willkürliche Entscheide und es kommt immer noch vor, dass unter Folter erzwungene Aussagen als Grundlage für eine Verurteilung verwendet werden ("Zur aktuellen Situation - Juni 2003 ") [#14557][ID 13311]

"In der Türkei gibt es heute noch acht Staatssicherheitsgerichte. Diese befinden sich in Adana, Ankara, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Istanbul, Izmir, Malatya und Van.
Leider muss jedoch auch nach dieser Reduktion festgestellt werden, dass die Staatssi-cherheits-Gerichte mit ihren Urteilen teilweise nach wie vor grundlegende rechtliche Grund-sätze verletzen, zum Teil willkürliche Entscheide fällen und es immer noch vorkommt, dass unter Folter erzwungene Aussagen als Grundlage für eine Verurteilung verwendet werden.
Die Kompetenzen der Staatssicherheits-Gerichte wurden in den letzten Jahren abgebaut, sie sind heute für Verfahren zuständig, in denen es um Verstösse gegen die unteilbare Ein-heit des Staates und das Laizismus-Prinzip sowie um Delikte gegen den Staat geht. Verfah-ren wegen Verstosses gegen das Versammlungsgesetz werden heute vor ordentlichen Strafgerichten durchgeführt. Bei den Presseverfahren wird ein Teil vor den Staatssicher-heitsgerichten (Kriterien wie oben erwähnt) und ein Teil vor den ordentlichen Strafgerichten geführt."

Document(s): Open document