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New law on retrial in effect [ID 13596]
"[...] Four “harmonization” reform packages entered into law on 11 January, 4 February, 19 July and 7 August. Among the notable elements were: [...] the possibility of retrial for those whom the European Court of Human Rights ruled had suffered a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights as a result of a court ruling in Turkey [...]
As a result of the new law on retrial, four former Democracy Party (DEP) deputies – Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Doğan and Selim Sadak – attended the first hearing of their retrial on 28 March. AI believed that the four prisoners of conscience, imprisoned since 1994, were punitively punished for their non-violent political activities relating to the Kurdish question. One-day hearings of the retrial were subsequently held once a month; AI and other international observers voiced serious concerns about the fairness of the trial procedures and the continued imprisonment of the four former deputies."
28.05.2008 - Source: Amnesty International
Unfair trials ("Annual Report 2008") [ID 23436]
"Fair trial concerns persisted, especially for those prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws. In protracted trials, statements allegedly extracted under torture were used as evidence.
-In June, Mehmet Desde was imprisoned after being convicted with seven others of supporting or membership of an “illegal organization” because of links to the Bolshevik Party (North Kurdistan/Turkey). The Bolshevik Party has not used or advocated violence and the connection between it and those convicted was not proven. The conviction of Mehmet Desde was based largely on statements allegedly extracted under torture.
-Selahattin Ökten spent the whole of 2007 in pre-trial detention after his arrest on suspicion of taking part in PKK activities. The charge was based on a single witness statement that was allegedly extracted under torture and was subsequently retracted."
03.2008 - Source: Pro Asyl (Network of German refugee councils)
Analysis of recent reports on unfair trials; ongoing use of "confessions" extracted under torture in trials; decisions by European Court of Human Rights (update to research study of January 2006, ID 25245) ("Neue Erkenntnisse zu unfairen Gerichtsverfahren in der Türkei"), Author: Helmut Oberdiek [ID 23207]
06.11.2007 - Source: European Commission
Access to justice ("Turkey 2007 Progress Report [SEC(2007) 1436]") [ID 22353]
"Some progress was made regarding access to justice. Access to a lawyer for detainees improved during the reporting period. Reports indicate that in urban areas most detainees consulted lawyers immediately after detention.
However, access to lawyers has varied across the country and according to the type of crime committed. Security forces have not always provided detainees with immediate access to lawyers, as required by law. In rural areas, particularly in the Southeast of the country, there have been a higher number of cases where defendants have not had access to a lawyer on terms similar to those applying in urban areas. Under the current legal framework, defendants are under the obligation to return the lawyers' fees if they are sentenced."
07.2007 - Source: Human Rights Watch
Impunity for Human Rights Violations by State Officials ("Human Rights Concerns in the Lead up to July Parliamentary Elections") [ID 24657]
"There continues to be widespread impunity in Turkey for serious human rights violations committed by members of the Turkish security forces and other state officials. Although the need for accountability for such abuses has long been a priority for both domestic and international human rights organizations, little progress has been made in addressing the root causes of this problem.
While prosecutors in Turkey have a duty to conduct effective and independent investigations into all allegations of human rights violations, they routinely decide not to open an investigation despite not having fully examined the allegations or conducted an effective preliminary investigation. This is particularly true in cases involving serious allegations of abuse, such as ill-treatment. Even in cases involving allegations of misconduct and negligence, however, criminal investigations often do not occur; an old law concerning the prosecution of civil servants (who include police and gendarmerie) requires that permission for a criminal investigation has to be given by a Provincial Administrative Board headed by the provincial governor. This law creates a cumbersome process that often serves as an obstacle to accountability.
What is more, even after the important reform processes of the past years, including reform and training of the judiciary itself, the courts in Turkey have failed to demonstrate independence and have repeatedly issued decisions that are inconsistent with international human rights law, including the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Courts regularly demonstrate far greater leniency toward defendants who are state officials than toward other defendants, and protracted trials too often result in their acquittal or token sentences. Three ongoing cases clearly demonstrate these concerns.
06.03.2007 - Source: US Department of State
Trial procedures (as of 2006) ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2006") [ID 19006]
"There is no jury system; a judge or a panel of judges decides all cases. Trials are public. The law requires bar associations to provide free counsel to indigents who request it from the court, and bar associations across the country did so in practice. Defendants have the right to be present at trial and to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Defendants or their attorneys can question witnesses for the prosecution and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants and their attorneys have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and the right to appeal.
International human rights organizations and the European Union (EU) stated that the courtroom structure and rules of criminal procedure gave an unfair advantage to the prosecution. Prosecutors enter the courtroom through the same door as the judge; defense attorneys enter through a separate door. Prosecutors sit at an elevated desk that is at the same level as that of the judge; the defense sits at floor level. During the trial, the prosecutor may himself call any witness desired, whereas the defense must request that the judge call a witness. Judges decide whether to ask and how to phrase defense counsel's questions, but ask all of the prosecution's questions in the exact form presented.
The law provides for the right to a speedy trial; however, at times trials lasted for years (see section 1.d.). Proceedings against security officials often were delayed because officers did not submit statements promptly or attend trials. In several cases, such delays extended beyond the statute of limitations, causing the trial to end without a verdict.
The law prohibits the use of evidence obtained by torture in court; however, prosecutors in some instances failed to pursue torture allegations, and exclusion of evidence occurred only after a separate case on the legality of the evidence was resolved. In practice a trial based on a confession allegedly coerced under torture could proceed, and even conclude, before the court had examined the merits of the torture allegations.
Despite the May 2005 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan did not receive a fair trial during the proceedings that led to his 1999 conviction, the Ankara Heavy Penal Court, on May 5, denied Ocalan's attorneys' retrial request. On appeal, the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court upheld the lower court's decision."
08.02.2007 - Source: Amnesty International
Highest court upheld convictions of 8 men detained in 2002 and convicted in relation to their alleged connection with the non-violent opposition Bolshevik Party; verdict reportedly after unfair trial; reportedly, confessions partly extracted under torture ("Urgent Action 31/07 [EUR 44/002/2007]") [ID 19363]
10.2006 - Source: Amnesty International
Man sentenced to lifelong imprisonment after possibly unfair trial in 1996; he is still in detention, although no evidence was found against him; he was reportedly tortured in detention ("Briefe gegen das Vergessen - Türkei") [ID 17727]
06.09.2006 - Source: BBC News
The country is reportedly still staging unfair trials under anti-terror laws; evidence extracted under torture is often used and some people are being held on remand for more than a decade ("Turkey 'unfair trials' condemned") [ID 17743]
06.09.2006 - Source: Amnesty International
Unfair trials, especially against those charged under anti-terrorism legislation, continue to blight human rights record despite reforms in law ("Justice Delayed and Denied: The persistence of protracted and unfair trials for those charged under anti-terrorism legislation [EUR 44/013/2006]") [ID 19366]
For information on different cases of unfair trial (under anti-terrorism legislation) consult the original document
"The report highlights the following violations of fair trial rights:
o Lack of safeguards during interrogation in the recent past: incommunicado detention (including denial of access to legal counsel) and inadequate medical examinations
o Failure to investigate allegations of torture or other ill-treatment in police or gendarmerie custody
o Continuing use of statements allegedly extracted under torture or other ill-treatment as evidence for prosecution and in on-going trial proceedings
o Denial of equality of arms and of the right to an effective defence
o Extremely prolonged pre-trial detention(2) in violation of the right to trial within a reasonable time or to release from detention
o Protracted criminal proceedings, in violation of the right to be tried without undue delay
o Failure of courts to conduct thorough, impartial and de novo examination of evidence and its application to law in retrials of cases following European Court of Human Rights rulings which have found Turkey in violation of fair trial provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR)."
20.06.2006 - Source: World Organisation Against Torture
Ongoing arbitrary detention of and judicial proceedings against several human rights defenders ("Arbitrary detention of and judicial proceedings against six human rights defenders [TUR 001 / 0406 / OBS 045.1]") [ID 17671]
20.06.2006 - Source: Amnesty International
Trial of 2 gendarmerie intelligence officers in connection with the November 2005 bombing of a bookshop in Hakkari province ended yesterday; both men are sentenced to imprisonment of 39 years, 5 months and 10 days ("Court convicts two in Semdinli bombing case, but questions remain unanswered") [ID 17672]
19.06.2006 - Source: BBC News
2 Turkish paramilitary officers jailed for nearly 40 years each for trying to kill supporter of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ("Long jail terms for Kurd attack") [ID 17673]
09.06.2006 - Source: Committee to Protect Journalists
Columnist Murat Belge of newspaper Radikal acquitted by an Istanbul court; he was charged of attempting to influence the outcome of judicial proceedings ("Journalist acquitted but media prosecutions continue") [ID 17675]
07.06.2006 - Source: Human Rights Watch
Trial of 3 Kurdish activists on anti-terrorism charges after they attempted to stage peaceful protest against recent killings of civilians by security forces ("Turkey: Anti-Terror Law Used Against Peaceful Activists") [ID 15768]
10.2005 - Source: UK Border Agency (Home Office)
Prosecution of state officials accused of ill-treatment ("Country Report - October 2005") [#40563], [ID 13584]
for more detailed information seek out the original document page 80
"6.43 As noted in the European Commission 2005 report:
“The new Penal Code, the new Code of Criminal Procedure and their implementing regulations contain provisions which strengthen the fight against torture and ill-treatment. The new Regulation on Apprehension, Detention and Statement Taking, issued in June 2005, introduces additional safeguards, in particular in the context of medical examinations and the right of defence. Furthermore, the Penal Code increases the term of imprisonment for those convicted of torture or ill-treatment and the statute of limitations, which in the past has allowed cases against alleged perpetrators of torture or ill-treatment to be dropped, is increased from ten to fifteen years. However, it is regrettable that the statute of limitations is not repealed for such crimes, as recommended by the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) in 2003.” [71e] (p22)
6.44 The EC 2005 report continued:
“As regards the fight against impunity, a number of cases have been brought against the security forces and trials are ongoing. In June 2005 the Court of Cassation overturned the verdict of a lower court in a murder case on the grounds that inter alia, torture had been used to extract evidence. Nevertheless, numerous challenges remain in this area. According to official statistics, of the
1 239 cases that were filed against law enforcement officials in the first quarter of 2005, only 447 prosecutions were pursued. Moreover, there are concerns that when cases are pursued, prosecutors still do not conduct timely and effective investigations against those accused of torture. Often such investigations are limited only to an examination of the medical report, despite the necessity – stated in the CPT report on the September 2003 visit – to look beyond the medical reports in the context of such investigations.” [71e] (p23)
6.45 The EC 2005 report further reported that:
“Convictions are rare and the courts appear to be unable or unwilling to impose appropriate sanctions on those committing these crimes. In 2004, of the 1 831 cases concluded, 99 led to imprisonment, 85 to fines and 1 631 to acquittals. Notwithstanding efforts to assure the attendance of the accused at trials and recent changes to the penal code, cases against alleged perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment continue to exceed the statute of limitations. Moreover, courts are often reluctant to accept evidence from sources other than the Forensic Medical Institute. Police officers facing trial for such crimes are frequently not removed from duty pending the outcome of the trial.” [71e] (p23)"
12.05.2005 - Source: BBC News
European Court of Human Rights ruled that trial of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who was convicted of treason in 1999, was unfair, he was blamed for 30,000 deaths in 15-year war between PKK and Turkish security forces ("Trial of Kurdish leader 'unfair'") [#31928], [ID 13585]
02.03.2005 - Source: Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Publisher charged for publishing a book about government policies on Kurdish; writer charged with insulting the military and security forces of the State, acquitted; there are concerns over legal grounds for their trials ("OSCE media freedom representative concerned over legal grounds for trials of publisher and writer in Turkey") [#29587], [ID 13586]
28.02.2005 - Source: US Department of State
Trials against security officials, police officers and village guards ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2004") [#29519], [ID 13587]
"According to the HRF and press reports, four trials in cases of past alleged killings by security officials ended during the year, resulting in nine acquittals and no convictions. Civilian judges transferred cases against six soldiers to military courts.
Court proceedings continued in the trial of 10 village guards arrested in connection with the 2002 killing of 3 internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to their homes in Ugrak village. One defendant remained in detention during the trial while the others were released pending a verdict.
In November, the High Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a police officer charged with the 1999 death in detention of trade unionist Suleyman Yeter and sentenced the officer, Mehmet Yutar, to 4 years and 2 months in prison. According to the law under which convicts serve a portion of their sentences, Yutar would spend 1 year and 8 months in prison. A second officer charged in connection with the death, Ahmet Okuducu, failed to attend the trial; the court issued a warrant for his arrest. In November, an Istanbul court closed a separate trial of four police officers charged with torturing Yeter (see Section 1.c.).
In April, a prosecutor in Mus Province opened a case against seven village guards in connection with the 1994 killing of Ramazan Oznarci. The case continued at year's end."
16.11.2004 - Source: Amnesty International
Developments in the trials of police officers charged in connection with the torture and subsequent death in custody of trade unionist showed, that torturers enjoy impunity despite recent legal reforms ("Insufficient and inadequate -- judicial remedies against torturers and killers") [#27038], [ID 13588]
14.07.2004 - Source: BBC News
A Turkish court has ordered a retrial for 4 Kurdish former MPs, who were freed after a decade of imprisonment ("Freed Kurd ex-MPs to get retrial") [#24037], [ID 13589]
14.07.2004 - Source: BBC News
Turkey's parliament has voted to allow the Supreme Court to prosecute two more former ministers on corruption charges ("Turkey ex-ministers face charges") [#24066], [ID 13590]
09.07.2004 - Source: BBC News
Turkish police are pushing for new charges to be brought against four Kurdish former MPs who were freed after a decade of imprisonment ("Freed Kurd ex-MPs face new threat") [#23914], [ID 13591]
07.07.2004 - Source: World Organisation Against Torture
Crimes against women in the name of honour ("Violence Against Women - 10 reports - year 2003") [#24621], [ID 13592]
"Accurate statistics on the number of “honour crimes” committed in Turkey do not exist, in part because such crimes are not systematically prosecuted by the authorities and thus go unreported. Also, police records in Turkey do not break down homicides into specific types. Nevertheless, women’s rights groups estimate that at least 200 girls and women are murdered each year by their families, although they say that the real numbers may be much greater. The practice of “honour killings” and its persistence is a subject of increasing international concern and has received the attention of United Nations experts and civil society. [...]
The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions have both reported on the continuing occurrence of “honour crimes” in Turkey today. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, noted with great concern in her report on her mission to Turkey, that the incidence of crimes committed in the name of “honour” are underreported and rarely prosecuted. [...]
Alarmingly, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions notes that the practice of “honour killings” is so culturally entrenched in Turkey that apart from some women’s rights organizations, all other human rights NGOs she spoke with did not consider “honour killings” to be a human rights concern but rather a “social issue.”
The Turkish government has taken some steps to address the needs of women in danger of being victimized by these practices. There are a few government-run women’s shelters in the urban centers, however, and according to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, these shelters are insufficient and ineffective in guaranteeing the right to life of threatened women.[...]
The Penal Code is inadequate to protect women and girls from “honour” crimes. In fact, OMCT is concerned that the structure of the Turkish Penal Code perpetuates the idea that a woman’s sexuality should be controlled by her family. Although Turkey’s criminal laws do not explicitly provide for an “honour defence,” several provisions of national law contain defences that have been used in order for perpetrators of the so-called “honour killings” to receive reduced sentences. [...]"
10.06.2004 - Source: Amnesty International
Prisoners of conscience Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Selim Sadak and Orhan Dogan who were sentenced for alleged membership of an illegal armed organization, the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), released ("Released prisoners of conscience should face no further trial") [#23199], [ID 13593]
09.06.2004 - Source: BBC News
Four prominent Kurdish activists, including award-winning ex-MP Leyla Zana, have been freed from Turkish jail pending an appeal ("Kurd activists leave Turkish jail") [#23182], [ID 13594]
07.06.2004 - Source: BBC News
Prosecutor calls for the 15-year jail sentence of a leading Kurdish rights campaigner and 3 of her fellow former MPs to be overturned ("Kurd MPs' conviction challenged") [#23188], [ID 13595]
28.04.2004 - Source: BBC News
The father and 12 relatives accused of taking a collective decision to kill his daughter for " bringing shame on the family name" after she was raped ("Turkish father 'kills raped girl'") [#21876], [ID 13597]
21.04.2004 - Source: Amnesty International
4 prisoners of conscience, sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for membership of an illegal armed organization, the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in 1994, remain in prison ("Injustice continues despite welcome reforms") [#21534], [ID 13598]
30.09.2003 - Source: International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Report focused on latest human rights developments in the member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ("Interventions and Recommendations by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) on the Occasion of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting Warsaw, 6-17 October 2003") [#16408], [ID 13599]
"In Turkey, the fifth “harmonization package” of January 2003 provided for the right to retrial to persons whose original Turkish convictions or sentences were condemned unfair by the European Court of Human Rights. The reform provided for the retrial of former pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP) deputies Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan, Selim Sadak and Leyla Zana, who were all convicted on 8 December 1994 by the Ankara State Security Court to 15 years in prison for “membership in an armed gang” (under article 168 of the Penal Code). On 17 July 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the four former parliamentarians had not received a fair trial at the Ankara State Security Court. The re-trial started in February 2003, and by the end of August, seven hearings had taken place. The International Commission of Jurists welcomed some improvements in the implementation of due process standards as the re-trial proceeded, but criticized serious problems related to equality of arms between the prosecution and the defense and the independence and impartiality of the tribunal. For example, in most hearings, the defense has not been allowed to call witnesses or examine and cross-examine the witnesses of the prosecution; its submissions (e.g. for the release of the defendants) have not been taken down verbatim, while those of the prosecution have been; the defense has not been allowed to question its own witnesses and the statements of its witnesses have not been taken down verbatim, unlike those of the prosecution; and no communication between the defendants and their attorney has been allowed during court session and breaks. Moreover, the defendants remain imprisoned, suggesting that the principle of the presumption of innocence has been violated and that the court still regards its previous sentence as valid. In August, the court adjourned until 15 September. The slow pace of proceedings and the pertaining irregularities raise serious about doubts of the commitment of Turkey to abide by the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights."
11.08.2003 - Source: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Seit Mitte Juli sind Anwälte bei Verhören anwesend; Reformen werden umgesetzt ("Das 7. EU-Anpassungspaket") [#15747], [ID 13600]
"Bei den Umsetzungen vorhergehender EU-Anpassungsgesetze herrscht eine durchwachsene Situation. [...] Auf der anderen Seite muss aber auch erwähnt werden, dass die Staatssicherheitsgerichte den neuen Bestimmungen Folge leisten. Bis vor kurzem war es Anwälten nicht gestattet dem Verhör von Angeklagten durch die Staatsanwaltschaft dieser Gerichte beizuwohnen. Nach der Neureglung von Mitte Juli dieses Jahres sind nun die Anwälte aber bei den Verhören mit anwesend und dies zeigt, dass Reformen auch umgesetzt werden."
21.06.2003 - Source: Schweizerische Flüchtlingshilfe
Willkürliche Beweiserhebung und Beweiswürdigung, Einschränkung der Verteidigungsrechte sowie die Verwendung von unter Folter erzwungenen Geständnissen für die Anklage ("Zur aktuellen Situation - Juni 2003 ") [#14557], [ID 13601]
"Der Vorwurf der unfairen Prozessführung beschränkt sich nach der Veränderung der Zusammensetzung der Staatssicherheits-Gerichte vor allem auf die nach wie vor zum Teil will-kürliche Beweiserhebung und Beweiswürdigung, die Einschränkung der Verteidigungsrechte sowie die Verwendung von unter Folter erzwungenen Geständnissen für die Anklage und oft auch die Verurteilung. Siehe dazu auch Kapitel 1.1.4."
11.2002 - Source: Asylum Aid
David McDowall: Those charged with political offences are unlikely to receive a fair trial ("Asylum Seekers from Turkey II (revised, updated edition of the report of a mission to Turkey, October 2000)") [#10639], [ID 13602]
"The Anti-terror law (No. 3713) of 12 April 1991 remains the principle legal instrument for the conviction of those who assert political freedoms of expression and assembly. The failure to separate the powers of the executive and judiciary remains a serious flaw to the whole judicial system.
Those charged with political offences are unlikely to receive a fair trial because
(i) the law is framed and used to persecute political activists
(ii) the decision where to try defendants (i.e. in State Security Courts (DGMs) or criminal courts) is a political one.
(iii) access to someone able to 'pull strings' can affect the outcome of a trial.
(iv) lawyer access to defendants in custody is greatly diminished by degrading, abusive and brutal treatment of visiting lawyers, and by denial of confidentiality for discussions between lawyer and defendant.
(v) convictions are often made in DGMs on the sole basis of uncorroborated confessions obtained under interrogation, i.e. conditions with a potential for torture.
Prisons are reportedly environments of excessive violence and torture committed not only by prison staff but also by the security forces called in to deal with acts of collective disobedience."
09.10.2002 - Source: European Commission
European Commission: Amendments to the Penal Procedure Code ("2002 Regular Report on Turkey's Process Towards Accession") [#10217], [ID 13603]
"The amendments to Articles 107 and 128 of the Code of Penal Procedure, introduced in
February 2002, require that relatives of the detainee be informed of the arrest or custody
extension without delay and by decision of the prosecutor.
Following the amendments to Article 16 of the Law on the Establishment and
Prosecution Methods of the State Security Courts, detainees who fall under the scope of
these Courts have the right of access to a lawyer after 48 hours in detention. Meanwhile
the detainees remain incommunicado and this is when, reportedly, torture is most likely
to occur. Detainees can waive the right to a lawyer, which leaves the possibility for
detainees to be subject to pressure to do so."
10.2002 - Source: UK Border Agency (Home Office)
UK Home Office: Pre-trial detention; maximum periods for which a suspect may be detained in police custody ("Country Assessment - October 2002") [#9887], [ID 13604]
"5.37 The Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure (CMUK), as amended in March 1997 and in 2002, sets out the maximum periods for which a suspect may be detained in police custody for questioning prior to formal arrest. The Code maintains two legal standards, giving different rights to criminal (i.e. non-security) and to security detainees. (Security detainees are suspected of crimes under the jurisdiction of State Security Courts (see paragraphs 5.27-5.30)).
Criminal (i.e. non-security) detainees
Individual crimes (i.e. those committed by one person or two people) - 24 hours
"Collective crimes" (those committed by three or more people) - 4 days, which can be extended to 7 with the request of a public prosecutor and approval of a judge.
A criminal detainee has the right for a lawyer to be present during interrogation periods.
Individual crimes - 48 hours
"Collective crimes" - 4 days upon the consent of a public prosecutor. In areas under a state of emergency the 4 day period can be extended to 7 at the request of a public prosecutor and upon the order of a judge.
A security detainee has the right of access to a lawyer only after 48 hours.
5.38 The February 2002 amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure require that relatives of the detainee be informed of the arrest or custody extension “without delay" and "by decision of the prosecutor".
5.39 Private lawyers and human rights monitors continue to report uneven implementation of the regulations, particularly right of access to a lawyer. The Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture found on its visit to Turkey in March 2002 that the issue of access to lawyers for people detained by the police has been, and apparently remains, a significant problem in Diyarbakýr. The Turkish authorities highlighted measures taken to address the point. The majority of investigations by police and prosecutors are still geared towards obtaining a confession from the suspect, often without the presence of a lawyer, and confessions are still accepted in courts without further supporting evidence.
5.40 Statistics, which are not comprehensive and which merely record cases which have come to the notice of various human rights organisations, indicate that over 95% of people detained by the police in 1998 and 1999 were released without charge. It is only once a defendant has been formally charged that he is able to get access to documents relating to his case. Anyone who has been detained and released without charge will be unable to prove it with any form of documentary evidence."
15.04.2002 - Source: Council of the European Union
Netherlands delegation to CIREA: Two ways of taking a suspect into custody; pre-trial detention ("Note from the Netherlands delegation to CIREA: Official general report on Turkey, January 2002" Rf. 7838/02") [#7991], [ID 13605]
"According to the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure, a suspect may be taken into custody in two
The first is for a judge to order that the suspect should be taken into custody in a criminal case being
investigated by the Public Prosecutor's Office. In such cases the court issues an arrest warrant
(Turkish: tutuklama müzekerresi). If the suspect is already in detention he remains there. If the
suspect is at large he is arrested as quickly as possible on the basis of the warrant.
The second way of taking a suspect into custody is through arrest by the security services without a
warrant issued by the courts. In such cases the suspect must be brought before a judge as quickly as
possible in order to rule whether the arrest was justified. Such arrests may be made only in
emergencies, e.g. if there is a risk that the suspect will abscond.
In cases in which a suspect is arrested by the security services on their own initiative for an ordinary
offence, he must be brought before a judge within 24 hours. For offences which come under the
jurisdiction of the State Security Courts, this period is 48 hours. Under the constitutional
amendment of October 2001, offences committed by several people together, detention may last for
up to four days. Previously this had been seven days. On 27 December 2001 the Minister of Justice
issued a circular calling on all officials to comply with the new time limits.
Moreover, the provision whereby the period of detention may be extended if the offence was
committed in a state-of-emergency (OHAL) area is still contained in the new Constitution 1. The
retention of the old system was expressly confirmed in a State Security Court judgment in
January 2002 2. This means that in OHAL provinces pre-trial detention may extend to a maximum
of ten days. When the suspect is brought before the court, a decision is taken as to whether remand
in custody is necessary.
According to Sema Pişkinsüt, the former chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights
Commission, despite the above rule the security forces hold suspects for longer before bringing
them before the courts if they consider it necessary 3. In Annual Report 2000, the TIHV states that
in the year 2000 pre-trial detention was from one to three days in 78,0% of cases (compared to
55,2% in 1999) and longer than eight days in 20,3% of cases (as opposed to 21,9% in 1999) 4.
If a case is not referred to the courts within six months, by law the suspect must be released. If the
case is taken to court, the suspect may be remanded in custody during the proceedings for a
maximum of two years. The judge may extend this period if necessary. During that period a judge
must examine once a month whether the grounds for remand continue to obtain."
15.04.2002 - Source: Council of the European Union
Netherlands delegation to CIREA: There is a systematic failure to notify suspects' families ("Note from the Netherlands delegation to CIREA: Official general report on Turkey, January 2002" Rf. 7838/02") [#7991], [ID 13606]
"There is a systematic failure to notify suspects' families. This is attributable to the fact that
records kept in police and jandarma stations are forged, incomplete or in some cases completely
missing. Sometimes police offices deny for hours or days that a person has been arrested. In recent
years, according to the HRW report, there has been some improvement in this respect 3. In
July 2001 the Minister for the Interior issued a circular to all provincial governors, the national
police headquarters and the chief of jandarma urging that the rules on informing suspects’ next of
kin and keeping pre-trial detention records be conscientiously implemented."
15.04.2002 - Source: Council of the European Union
Netherlands Delegation to CIREA: Right to access to a lawyer ("Note from the Netherlands delegation to CIREA: Official general report on Turkey, January 2002" Rf. 7838/02") [#7991], [ID 13607]
"For ordinary offences a suspect has the right of access to a lawyer from the moment of his arrest.
For offences falling under the jurisdiction of the State Security Courts, this right only applies after
four days. This means that in such cases the suspect can be held "incommunicado" for a maximum
of four days. [...]
HRW also notes in its
abovementioned report that people suspected of ordinary offences were apparently told by police
officers that if they requested a lawyer their charges would be converted into charges falling under
the State Security Courts, with the result that they could be held incommunicado for four days. The
report also notes that it is known for detainees to be held incommunicado for up to six days. The
aforementioned circular sent by the Minister for the Interior in July 2001 also presses for the rules
on this point to be more strictly applied."
30.08.2001 - Source: Council of the European Union
United Kingdom delegation to CIREA: ("Note from the United Kingdom delegation to CIREA: Report on the fact-finding mission to Turkey Rf: 11498/01") [#8473], [ID 13611]
"The trial system is, however, confession-orientated. Prosecutors are charged with determining which law has been broken and objectively presenting the facts to the court. Defence lawyers do not have equal status with prosecutors. There is no jury system; a judge or a panel of judges decides all case. Trials for political crimes or torture frequently last for months or years, with one or two hearings scheduled each month. In 1999 the captured PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was tried in a State Security Court on the charge of treason, and was sentenced to death (which sentence has been suspended pending his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights). Human rights observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, raised several concerns about due process in the Ocalan case, including his initial nine to ten days of incommunicado detention, the limited access of Ocalan's lawyers to private consultations with their client and to written material included in the prosecution's case, and the harassment and threats directed towards Ocalan's lawyers. A case is pending in the European Court of Human Rights alleging that Ocalan's trial was unfair.
4.4.2 Some courts are said to be prone to cutting defence statements short. Another cause of criticism is that the defence is not recorded verbatim, but only through the judge's summary of his/her understanding of the defence case.
4.4.3 When a person is convicted by a State Security Court, he or she has the right of appeal to the Court of Cassation. An appeal can be brought both on procedural grounds and on the grounds of insufficient evidence. The Court of Cassation often spends little more than about ten minutes on each case, and it is generally accepted that with a very heavy workload it is impossible to examine every case in detail."