Joint Statement on Roboski Massacre Decision of the ECHR

23 May 2018,
Ankara – Diyarbakır

Last week the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found the application about Roboski massacre which is one of the gravest in the history of Turkey, “inadmissible” on the grounds that the domestic remedies were not exhausted. (Selahattin Encü and Others v. Turkey, no. 49976/16, 17.5.2018).

With this decision, the ECHR not only whitewashed the stance of the Constitutional Court, the effectiveness of which is highly debated, but also approved of Turkey’s impunity policy concretised in the Roboski case.  It gave a green light to government that has not fulfilled any one of its obligations related to this case about 34 people who lost their lives and most of whom were children, for other similar cases as well.

However, the same ECHR had been a source hope for the whole society and in particular the Kurdish people, and had not allowed the obstruction of truth by disclosing many dark human rights violations taking place in the Southeast of Turkey back in the 1990s. The ECHR decisions reflecting the approach of a human rights court advocating universal values were based on the following two fundamental principles:

The obligations of the states should not only remain on paper or be theoretical, but should also be practical and effective; they should be interpreted to make sure that the guarantees in the Convention are effective and in practice.

The rule on the requirement of exhaustion of domestic remedies should be implemented with some degree of flexibility and without excessive formalism.

The grave human rights violations that were realised without any borders or regardless of any procedures in 1990s are now seen in 2010s in forms concealed by various procedural rules. So the forms vary and yet the results are the same: People are massacred and yet the perpetrators enjoy impunity!

In 2018, there is no single independent international observer who considers Turkey as a state of law respecting international human rights standards. A major instigator of this fearful picture is the Constitutional Court rejecting the Roboski case. The Constitutional Court greenlighting the detention of hundreds of journalists, dismissal of ten thousands, and the arbitrary regulations in the emergency decrees rejected the applications on Roboski decision on grounds that were impossible to be envisaged by the applicants. It is fact that this is the first and only rejection decision at the level of a Court section based on the inadmissibility of the explanations provided by the lawyer for the missing documents!

The ECtHR which is expected to emphasize the requirement for avoiding excessive formalism in the exhaustion of domestic remedies for these very reasons, does the opposite and becomes the main collaborator of ever-deepening crisis of the human rights and the state of law in Turkey with the blank cheque given to the Constitutional Court in every instance!

We, the human rights organisations believing in the significance of the universal human rights and the principles of the state of law, hereby condemn the ECHR decision crowning the Roboski Massacre, which is one of the bloodiest in the history with impunity, and invite the ECHR to readopt the human centred approach on the cases against Turkey back in 1990s in order to end the damage created by the blank cheque given to the Government of Turkey and the Constitutional Court!

And we make the following warning: A human rights court tolerating impunity cannot be the hope of the humankind!

An international court that ceases to be the hope of humankind will inevitably be heading for a fall!

Diyarbakır Bar Association
Human Rights Association (IHD)
Mülkiye Human Rights Centre
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV)