Statement of International Initiative on the ECtHR decision in Öcalan vs. Turkey (No. 2)

The European Court of Human Rights today published its chamber decision in a set of applications by Abdullah Öcalan against Turkey.

The complaints referred, among others, to the isolation conditions on Imrali Island, the aggravated life sentence with no possibility of parole, the overhearing of all consultations with his lawyers and the threat to his life posed by the poisonous substances found in his hair. In the view of Öcalan and his lawyers, these and other violations constitute violations of articles 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Unfortunately, the chamber of the Court only found a violation of article 3 in regard to the life sentence without possibility of parole.

According to the judgment, the extreme isolation conditions on Imrali Island constituted a violation of article 3 only until the transfer of Öcalan and five other prisoners into a new building in November 2009, after that there is no violation. The restrictions on the visits of lawyers and the complete overhearing of any conversation with Öcalan is justified by the majority of judges as a legitimate security measure.

The International Initiative regards this judgment as a very unfortunate decision in terms of human rights. Turkey has timed the publication of CPT reports so that the very critical report on CPT’s 2013 visit could not influence the judgment. The Court should not have fallen for this. With this decision it ultimately helps legitimise the outrageous isolation conditions on Imrali Island.

By justifying the complete abolishing of lawyer-client confidentiality and furthermore the ban on visits of lawyers to the island as security measures, the court accepts the basic logic of Turkeys anti-terror legislation. This is a bad day for human rights in Europe.

The positive judgment on the aggravated life sentence was to be expected and is not specific on Öcalan. Turkey now has to introduce a new legislation giving every prisoner the possibility of parole.

We hope the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will correct this decision.

Cologne, 18 March 2014
International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan – Peace in Kurdistan”


Read the summary of the judgement HERE, the full text in French is available HERE