Ministers Committee of Council of Europe to watch Turkish police closely

27 September 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe said in Thursday’s assembly held in Strasbourg that it will be closely following the use of force by the Turkish police while dispersing demonstrations and the application of related court rulings.The committee, as the body responsible for supervising the implementation of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings, discussed 37 ECtHR judgments against Turkey regarding the disproportionate use of police force.

It was emphasized in the assembly that the court continues to receive numerous case files from Turkey related to this issue, despite the ECtHR’s first ruling about an incident in 2006 that stated that the excessive use of police force in protests was against the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The committee statement demands that the Turkish government review its legislation concerning police interventions in peaceful but illegal protests.

It also requires that the Turkish government draft a new bill that would compel the police to make an assessment of the conditions prior to engaging with demonstrators to determine if an intervention is necessary. The committee also demanded detailed information from the Turkish government about the supervision of the police during protests in terms of oversight of the necessity, proportionality and reasonability of their planned actions, as well as the disciplinary and prosecution processes applied when police officers use excessive force and current investigations into such cases.

According to the committee, it has become a systemic problem that the police resort to excessive force against protesters.

In addition, the committee demanded that Turkey also review its legislation about the use of tear gas by the police. In conclusion, the committee announced that it will closely follow Turkey’s adherence to ECtHR rulings regarding the use of police force as part of the committee’s regular schedule, which means that the subject will be discussed at each of their assemblies, held every three months.

The ECtHR has ruled against the Turkish government in more than 40 cases related to the excessive use of police force, and over 130 cases are still in progress. On July 16, the ECtHR also called on Turkey to review its legislation on the use of tear gas in a ruling in the case of a Turkish applicant who was wounded in 2006 by a tear gas canister fired by police. The ECtHR ruled against Turkey in that case, filed by Abdullah Yaşa, who at the age of 13 was injured in the face by a tear gas canister fired by police to disperse crowds during a demonstration in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in 2006. According to the ruling, Turkey had to pay 15,000 euros in compensation to the applicant. It said that Turkey had violated Article 3 of the ECHR, which concerns the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. Following the deaths of 14 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in an confrontation that took place on March 24, 2006, many illegal demonstrations were organized in Diyarbakır between March 28 and 31, 2006, during which 11 protesters were killed.