Öcalan's attorney: Turkey is misleading, responsibility lies with the EC

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  • 11:12 16 November 2021
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İSTANBUL - Stating that the "action plan" submitted to the EC Committee of Ministers is far from the violation decision made for Öcalan, lawyer Rezan Sarıca said, "Turkey's membership to the EC may be a matter of discussion if it is determined that it does not act in accordance with the decision."
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the aggravated life sentence for PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in İmralı Type F High Security Closed Prison since 15 August 1999, violates the 3rd paragraph of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits torture and ill-treatment. Following this decision on March 18, 2014, a violation decision was made for the detainees Hayati Kaytan, Emin Gurban and Civan Boltan on the same issue. Despite the fact that 7 years have passed since the violation decision was made for Öcalan and other prisoners, no action has been taken which mobilized legal and human rights organizations.
The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), Society and Legal Studies Foundation (TOHAV), Human Rights Association (İHD) and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) which are members of the Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe (AK BK) which oversees and implements the decisions made by the ECtHR applied to the Committe on July 26. The committee then put the issue on its agenda for the first time and decided to discuss the decision at the meeting to be held between November 30 and December 2.
Turkey made two separate notifications after the Committee brought the issue to the agenda. Turkey claimed in its notifications that there has been no violation in Imrali since 2009. Turkey ignored the findings and suggestions regarding “securing the right to hope” and “legal amendments on the regime of the execution of aggravated life sentence”. Since 2009, Öcalan and other prisoners have been prevented from meeting with their families and lawyers for various reasons.
In the notification it presented to the Committee on October 7 with the title "Action Plan", Turkey stated that Öcalan and other prisoners do not have the right to "conditional release" and accepted the "private law" was practiced in Imrali. 
Rezan Sarıca, one of the lawyers with the Asrın Law Office, made evaluations to the Mezopotamya Agency (MA) regarding Turkey's notifications and possible decisions to be made by the Committee.
Stating that Turkey has taken an approach far from the essence of the issue with its notifications, Sarıca spoke about Turkey's insistance that there are no violations of rights in İmralı. Sarıca said: "Turkey's notifications in this direction are not new. It claimed that the decision was fulfilled in its notifications in 2016. Therefore we should once again focus on the ECtHR decision. The main issue is that the life sentence will actually be for life which means they can't get out of the prison unless they are dead. ECtHR says this is torture. It is pointless that Turkey says there is no violation in İmralı."
Stating that Turkey's claims that there are no violations in İmralı is about the visitation rights, Sarıca said: "Turkey's response was about the isolation. However the Committee is more interested in 'life imprisonment', not the isolation part.It monitors this issue in Turkey's legislation. Will it be a development in line with the ECtHR's decision or not? This is what they are observing. Therefore, it will evaluate the notifications submitted by both NGOs and Turkey and monitor whether there are developments in line with the decision. 
Sarıca noted that the persistance of Turkey ignoring the demands made by NGOs, means it will not comply with the decision. Sarıca said: " The 'action plan' presented by Turkey does not bear any indication of the process followed by the Committee. It is not realistic and not applicable. In short, "There is an approach that evades it. Turkey is trying to divert the attention of the Committee with this. It expects the Committee to move away from the decision and display an unlawful approach."
Stating that their main demand from Turkey is to bring the existing law to a level compatible with the ECtHR and human rights, Sarıca emphasized that Turkey should also present a realistic and applicable action plan to the monitoring process. Sarıca said, "The action plan and the answers it has presented so far are not in line with this. We demand that it be made in accordance with the ECHR decision. However, Turkey insists that it will not fix it. We see that it will act against the law, will not recognize the ECHR decision, and will try to mislead the monitoring process of the Committee. If it will not fulfill its obligations, the duty and responsibility in this regard lies with the Committee. And in case the Committee determines that Turkey did not comply with the decision, Turkey's relations with the Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe will be discussed. Turkey has to act in accordance because it is a member. Turkey's membership will be at risk if Turkey insists on not complying with the decision. Other sanctions may also be imposed."
MA / Gökhan Altay - Mehmet Aslan

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