The Turkey Litigation Support Project, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists intervened in the case of Taner Kilic v. Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights (the ECtHR).
The case concerns the arrest and detention of the applicant, a respected human rights lawyer and former Director of Amnesty International Turkey. It epitomises some of the most fundamental human rights challenges in Turkey today, involving widely documented restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly of human rights defenders (HRDs), a rapidly closing civil society space under the emergency regime, and the broadening reach of anti-terrorism legislation applied against HRDs with wide-reaching implications for public debate, participation in public affairs and the protection of human rights.
Against this background, the intervention outlines the factual context of the situation facing HRDs in Turkey. It highlights international and comparative standards governing obligations towards them, including the limits prescribed by Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It further provides comments on key principles necessary for a rule of law approach to the application of the criminal law, against the legal and practical pattern of excessive resort to criminal law against HRDs in Turkey. Based on all these grounds, the intervention concludes that “the criminalisation of HRDs requires particularly rigorous oversight by the Court, given its impact on an array of rights, including in this case Articles 5, 10, 11 and 18, on the authority of criminal law and on the ability to defend human rights in Turkey.”
The intervention can be downloaded here.