The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided to consider Emine Özben’s application as urgent (whose husband Mustafa Özben (42), a Bar-registered lawyer and academic, was abducted on May 9, 2017 in Ankara) and asked statement from Turkish government.
Emine Ozben who is wife of victim lawyer tries to make her voice heard via twitter account named @OzbenAilesi
The lawyer of Emine Özben lodged a complaint form against Turkish government on July 28, 2017 requesting the ECtHR under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court to indicate to the government that an effective investigation be conducted to find the applicant’s husband.
The top European court has decided to put the file in process and requested information from the Turkish government. The court had set a deadline of September 1, 2017 for Ankara to respond.
These are the questions ECtHR asked to Turkish government:
– What steps have been taken by the police officers in order to find the applicant’s husband whose abduction was notified by eyewitnesses to the emergency services (155) immediately afterwards?
– What steps have been taken by the investigating authorities, in particular the relevant prosecutors, in the investigation into the abduction of the applicant’s husband?
In particular, have the investigating authorities:
– made attempts to find the black vehicle into which the applicant’s husband was placed by his kidnappers?
– made attempts to identify the kidnappers?
– questioned M.A.A. who, according to the information in the file, was the owner of the mobile telephone (no. 05370478101) from which the applicant was called in the evening of 11 May 2017?
– identified and questioned all eyewitnesses to the incident?
– located and secured any footages recorded by the CCTVs and other security cameras in the vicinity of the incident and along the route of the black vehicle after the applicant’s husband was placed in that vehicle?
Last month, Emine Özben took the case to the Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) by filing a complaint on rights violations after her repeated pleas for an effective investigation into the case was rejected by the Turkish Police and prosecutors. She detailed how authorities were unconcerned with her appeals. Until now, Emine Özben has not received any response from the Constitutional Court.
ECtHR also asked what steps have been taken by the Constitutional Court in relation to the request made by the applicant on July 7, 2017 for an interim measure?
Mysterious disappearances involving already-victimized opposition groups have become a common occurrence in Turkey in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. There are strong evidences that indicate Turkish security and intelligence services are responsible for ongoing abduction incidents.
According to Hugh Williamson who is Executive Director of HRW’s Europe and Central Asia Division “There are credible grounds to believe that government agents forcibly disappeared the missing men..”
New York based human rights organisation Human Rights Watch addressed a letter dated 3/8/2017 to Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and urged “Turkish authorities should urgently investigate the abduction and possible enforced disappearance of at least four men in Ankara since March 2017.″
Abduction and enforced disappearance incidents also reported by Sweden based advocacy group Stockholm Center for Freedom.
According to Stockholm Center for Freedom’s report (Enforce Disappearances in Turkey, dated June / 2017) “There has been a new campaign of enforced disappearance in Turkey since 2016 that specifically targets members of the civic Gülen movement. SCF has documented at least 11 cases of enforced disappearance so far.”
So far, despite the positive obligation (pursuant to ECHR and Turkish Constitution) to undertake an effective investigation into the violations of right to life and security, it is clear that the Turkish government and judiciary are unwilling to investigate the cases of abductions.
Turkey has a history of enforced disappearances by security forces in the 1990s. The European Court of Human Rights issued repeated judgments that Turkey had violated the rights to liberty and security and often the right to life of victims, most of whom were Kurds.
There has been a relentless campaign of arrests which has targeted fellow lawyers across the country. In 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have been detained and arrested on trumped-up charges as part of criminal investigations orchestrated by the political authorities and conducted by provincial public prosecutors. As of today, 522 lawyers have been arrested and 1315 lawyers are under prosecution.