Turkey: ICJ intervenes in a case concerning anti-terror laws and effective remedies

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Turkey Litigation Support Project (TLSP) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have intervened before the European Court of Human Rights in a case concerning the arrest and pre-trial detention of Turkish opposition politician Selahattin Demirtaş, on a series of charges relating to the exercise of his freedom of political expression. The applicant alleges that his pre-trial detention was arbitrary and unlawful.

In the intervention, the organisations underline that restrictions on freedom of expression, widespread detention and criminal prosecution under expansive anti-terrorism laws, and the impact on democratic debate and rights protection are now well documented in Turkey. This is particularly striking, and the repercussions serious, when opposition politicians are targeted for their expressions of opinion and engagement in democratic debate.

The interveners address:

  • the nature and application of anti-terror criminal laws in Turkey and the implications for protection of the right to liberty (Article 5(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)) and freedom of expression (Article 10 ECHR) and for the limitation on use of restrictions on rights (Article 18 ECHR); and
  • the effectiveness of the individual application procedure to the Turkish Constitutional Court as a remedy in detention cases, in particular in cases concerning the exercise of freedom of expression, in light of delays, the erosion of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and non-compliance of lower courts with the Constitutional Court’s decisions that protect Convention rights.

Full text of the intervention can be downloaded here.

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