Recent decisions of the European Courts concerning Turkey

European Court of Human Rights

Selahattin Demirtaş v. Turkey (no. 2), ECHR 395 (2018), 20 Nov. 2018

Judgment Selahattin Demirtas v. Turkey (no. 2) – several violations of the Convention

The Court found that it had been established beyond reasonable doubt that the extensions of Mr Demirtaş’s detention, especially during two crucial campaigns, namely the referendum and the presidential election, had pursued the predominant ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which was at the very core of the concept of a democratic society. The Court therefore held, unanimously, that the respondent State was to take all necessary measures to put an end to the applicant’s pre-trial detention.

European Court of JusticeJUDGMENT OF THE GENERAL COURT (Third Chamber, Extended Composition)

PKK vers. Council of the EU (supported by the UK and the European Commission, 15 Nov. 2018

On 15 November 2018, the General Court in Luxemburg determined that the decisions to maintain the PKK on the EU list of terrorist organizations in the period 2014-2017 must be annulled. The Council of the European Union failed to provide these decisions – which are reviewed every six months – with sufficient reasons.

Every six months, the Council of the European Union takes a new decision about the placement of an organization on the EU Terrorist List. This decision is accompanied by a statement of reasons, which must include the substantiation for the decision. The placement decision must be based on decisions by European Member States or third countries. In the case at hand reference was made to decisions by the US authorities and a decision by the United Kingdom. These were all national decisions that were at least 10 years old. The General Court held that, in particular in light of the peace negotiations in 2012-2013, these decisions in and of themselves could no longer justify continued placement.

“… the applicant correctly states that peace negotiations between the PKK and the Turkish Government took place in 2012 and 2013. In particular, on 21 March 2013 Mr Abdullah Öcalan called for the laying down of arms. In a press release dated 21 March 2013, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Catherine Ashton, and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Mr Štefan Füle, issued a joint statement in which they welcomed Mr Öcalan’s calling on the PKK to lay down arms and to withdraw beyond the Turkish borders, encouraged all parties to work unremittingly to bring peace and prosperity for all the citizens of the Republic of Turkey, and gave full support to the peace process. “

Interwiew with Mahmut Şakar, Co-Chairman of MAF-DAD e.V.,