THE OBSERVATORY for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
 
L’OBSERVATOIRE pour la Protection des Défenseurs des Droits de l’Homme
 
EL OBSERVATORIO para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos

 URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY

 New information TUR 002 / 0308 / OBS 039

Sentencing / Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment Turkey

March 18, 2008

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

 New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (İnsan Haklari Derneği – İHD) about the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Ridvan Kizgin, board member of the İHD headquarter office and former Chairperson of the Bingöl Branch of IHD.
According to the information received, on March 3, 2008, the Yargitay (Appeal Court) upheld a decision of the Bingöl 2 Criminal Court, which had sentenced Mr. Kizgin to two years and six months of imprisonment on October 7, 2005[1]. This sentence had been issued following the release by Mr. Kizgin of a report in which he denounced the killing of five persons in a village in Bingöl in 2003.

Mr. Kizgin is currently detained in Bingöl detention centre.

The Observatory was further informed of two other cases against him that are pending before the Appeal Court for “insulting a State agent” as well as for “insulting Turkishness” and violating Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The first case is related to the denunciation by Mr. Kizgin of a case of rape in Bangöl through the publication of a press release. On May 22, 2007, Mr. Kizgin had already been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and 570 YTL by the Bingöl 2 Criminal court. He had appealed this sentencing and the case is still pending.

The second case relates to the sentencing on November 14, 2006 of Mr. Kizgin and Ms. Kiraz Bicici, IHD Vice-president[2], to five months’ imprisonment, for “denigrating Turkish identity”[3]. The sentence was later turned into a 1750 YTL fine. Both had appealed this sentencing, and the case is still pending.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concerns about the ongoing judicial harassment as well as the arbitrary detention of Mr. Kizgin, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, in a context of increasing harassment and judicial proceedings against human rights defenders in Turkey.

The Observatory urges the Turkish authorities to conform to the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on Human Rights Defenders, so as to create an environment conductive to human rights defenders, to take effective measures to protect, promote, and respect them, to ensure their access to effective remedies, to take action to prevent attacks and harassment against them, and to ensure their effective access to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Observatory further recalls that as a Participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Turkey acknowledges that “the […] UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders [… places] a responsibility […] on states to adopt and implement adequate legislation and administrative procedures that would provide for a conducive environment for human rights defenders to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and recognises “the need for particular attention, support and protection for human rights defenders by the OSCE, its Institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States”[4].

 Actions required:

 Please write to the Turkish authorities, urging them to:

i.          Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ridvan Kizgin ;

ii.         Release Mr. Ridvan Kizgin immediately and unconditionally, as his detention is arbitrary since it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities ;

iii.        Put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Ridvan Kizgin and all human rights defenders in Turkey;

iv.       Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v.        More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Turkey.

 Addresses:

·         President of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Gül, Cumhurbaskanligi 06100 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 468 5026; Email: cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr

·         Prime Minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Office of the Prime Minister Basbakanlik 06573 Ankara, Turkey, Fax: + 90 312 417 0476; receptayyip.erdogan@basbakanlik.gov.tr

·         Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister for Humman Rights, Mr. Cemil Çiçek Fax: 00 90 312 417 42 06

·         Interior Minister, Mr. Beþir Atalay, Ministry of Interior, Içisleri Bakanligi, 06644 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 418 17 95 / +90 312 418 7696, besir.atalay@icisleri.gov.tr

·         Justice Minister, Mr. Mehmet Ali Þahin, Ministry of Justice/ Adalet Bakanligi, 06659 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: + 90 312 414 62 26

·         Foreign Minister and State Minister for Human Rights, Mr. Ali Babacan, Office of the Prime Minister, Basbakanlik, 06573 Ankara, Turkey; Fax: +90 312 287 88 11

·         Ambassador, Mr. Ahmet Üzümcü, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Ch. du Petit-Saconnex 28b – CP 271, CH-1211, Geneva 19, Switzerland, E-mail : mission.turkey@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 734 08 59

·         Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, avenue Louis Lepoutre, 99, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 98 79.

Please also write to the embassies of Turkey in your respective country.

***

Paris – Geneva, March 18, 2008

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

 


International Federation for Human Rights

17, Passage de la Main d’Or

75 011 Paris, France


World Organisation Against Torture

Case postale 21 – 8 rue du Vieux-Billard

1211 Geneva 8, Switzerland

 


[1] See Observatory Annual Report 2005.

[2] See Observatory Annual Report 2006.

[3] The charges were brought against the two after the publication of a press article by Ms. Bicici, in which she had denounced acts of harassment carried out by the commander of the Bingöl police station against Mr. Kizgin.

[4] See OP 6 & OP 8 of the Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions, adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on July 10, 2007.

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