Ipek v. Turkey

Key Judgment

Legal Relevance

Keywords: State/Non-State Agents | Duty to Investigate | Burden of Proof | Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Judicial Protection | Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Persons and Groups Affected | Related Crimes

The Court reiterated that the burden of proof rests on the authorities to provide a convincing explanation regarding persons being detained within their control, as strong presumptions of fact will arise in respect of injuries and death occurring during that detention. Taking into account that the victims were last seen in the hands of the security forces and that no information was provided on their whereabouts for a long time, and given that the situation in south-east Turkey at the time of the events fostered lack of accountability of the security forces, the Court held that the victims must be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by the security forces, finding the State responsible for their death. The Court also made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victims' father, as he suffered as a result of the disappearance of his sons, of his inability to find out what had happened to them, and of the manner in which his complaints were dealt with by the authorities. The Court further argued that the fact that there exists no official trace of the victims' detention or of their subsequent whereabouts must be considered a most serious violation of their right to liberty and security.

Judgment Date

May 17, 2004



Judicial Body

European Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 2 (procedural) [ECHR], Article 2 (substantive) [ECHR], Article 3 [ECHR], Article 5 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR], Article 38 [ECHR], Article 1 [P1ECHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 14 [ECHR], Article 18 [ECHR]

Facts of the Case

On 17 May 1994, Mr. İkram İpek and his father were approached by soldiers for identification near their village located in a Kurdish area. The following day, Mr. Servet İpek and Mr. İkram İpek disappeared in the context of a raid conducted in their village by soldiers in uniform. The soldiers brought Mr. Servet İpek, Mr. İkram İpek and four other men to military vehicles. When their mother later asked the soldiers about what had happened to them, they replied that they would be released soon. Three of the men who had been taken into custody together with İkram and Servet were released the next day, and confirmed that they had been brought together to a military place and later separated from the victims. In 1995, an investigation found no evidence that the alleged offences had been committed by the security forces. In December 1999 the victims' father was summoned by the gendarmerie and the father asked where his sons were. When the father stated that they had been taken away by the State, he was accused of lying. The gendarmerie insisted that his sons had been taken by the PKK, yelled at him, and asked him why he was complaining about the State. The applicant was obliged to apply his thumbprint to documents prepared by the gendarmes, the contents of which were not made known to him.

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