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Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, A/HRC/10/12/Add.1, 4 March 2009: Turkey

2574. On 17 April 2008, the then Special Representative sent a letter of allegations to the Government concerning the Lambdaistanbul Cultural Center, an organization advocating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Turkey.

2575. According to the information received, on the afternoon of 7 April 2008, approximately a dozen plainclothes policemen entered the Lambdaistanbul Cultural Centre with a search warrant. The search of the premises lasted approximately two hours, during which time the entire office was examined and the identity cards of all those who were present or entered the Center were collected. Documents and files concerning the financial and membership structure of the organization were confiscated by the officers when they left.

2576. Reports indicated that the search may have taken place as a result of a complaint filed, accusing the organization of participation in illegal prostitution and procurement of sex workers. It was also reported that the Cultural Center had been under observation by the authorities, who had been taking note of those entering and leaving the building. The association was also in the midst of legal proceedings to apply for official status as an organization, reportedly following a complaint by the city governorship that Lambda should be closed down as the group constituted a threat to Turkish family values and public decency. The fifth hearing was reportedly scheduled for April 17.

2577. Concern was expressed that the aforementioned events may be directly related to the activities of the Lambdaistanbul Cultural Center in defense of human rights, particularly the rights of LGBT persons and further concern was expressed for the physical and psychological integrity of its members.

Response from the Government

2578. In a letter dated 26 May 2008, the Government responded to the communication sent on 17 April 2008 concerning the “Lambda Istanbul LGBT Solidarity Association”. The Government reported that on 18 March 2008, a complaint was lodged against the “Lambda Instanbul LGBT Solidarity Association”, claiming that its administrators have been involved in illegal prostitution through the activities of the association.

2579. The Public Order Division of the Directorate for Security of Istanbul conducted a preliminary inquiry in connection with the allegations. On the basis of the report prepared by the Public Order Division officers following the inquiry, a request for warrant to search the premises of the above-mentioned association was made to the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor of Beyoglu, which was conveyed to the Beyoglu 2nd Criminal Court of Peace. The Court issued a search warrant on 7 April 2008 under Articles 116 and 119 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

2580. Article 116 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows for the law enforcement authorities to search the premises of a suspect if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an evidence of the crime might be obtained. Article 119 stipulates the legal procedure to be followed for a search warrant.

2581. On 7 April 2008 the search was carried out in the premises of the “Lambda Istanbul LGBT Solidarity Association” in accordance with the court’s decision. The lawyer of the Association filed an appeal with the Beyoglu 9th Criminal Court of First Instance against the search warrant on 14 April 2008. Having considered the appeal, the court decided (Decision No. 2008/81) that there were no grounds for correcting the previous court decision.

2582. The Government noted that the legal proceeding concerning the deficiencies and irregularities in the Statue of the Association is pending before the Beyoglu 3rd Civil Court of First Instance. On 30 October 2007, the Court instructed an expert witness, who is examining the case file.

Link to full text of the report: Summary of cases-SR Human Rights Defenders-2009-eng