Mahmut Kaya v. Turkey

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Reparations | Burden of Proof | Obligation to Prevent | Evidence | Systemic Practice | State/Non-State Agents | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Related Crimes

The Court could not establish that State agents were involved in the victim's killing, but was able to draw strong inferences that the perpetrators were known to the authorities. It concluded that the authorities ought to have been aware of the possibility that the victim's right to life was at risk due to the activities carried out by “contra-guerrilla” groups targeting individuals perceived to be acting against State interests with the knowledge or acquiescence of the security forces. Taking into account that the situation in south-east Turkey at the time of the events undermined the effectiveness of the protection afforded by criminal law and fostered a lack of accountability of members of the security forces, the Court found that the authorities failed to take reasonable measures available to them to prevent a real and immediate risk to the life of the victim. The Court further argued that the failure to protect the victim's life had placed him in danger of ill-treatment from persons who were unaccountable for their actions, finding the State responsible for the ill-treatment suffered by the victim after his disappearance and prior to his death.

Judgment Date

March 28, 2000

Country

Turkey

Judicial Body

European Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 2 (procedural) [ECHR], Article 2 (substantive) [ECHR], Article 3 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 14 [ECHR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Hasan Kaya, a doctor who had allegedly received threats because of his treating of wounded members of the PKK, disappeared in February 1993 together with a friend, after they went to treat a person whose presence had been signalled by two unknown men. The following day, the wife of Mr. Kaya's friend received a phone call in which she was told that the two had been killed. The families of the two missing men reported their disappearance to the authorities. Later on, the car in which Mr. Kaya and his friend had left was found. The following day, someone called Mr. Kaya's friend, claiming that the two men were still alive and that one of the two would be released. On the same day, a bag containing shoes belonging to Mr. Kaya and his friend was found outside the People's Social Democratic Party building. Few days later, the bodies of Mr. Kaya and his friend, carrying signs of numerous injuries, were found. In March 1993, the authorities informed their families that the events fell within the scope of the state of emergency. Over the years, several unofficial sources pointed to a number of individuals as those responsible for the abduction and killing of the two men. In March 1995, a prosecutor sent instructions for the location and arrest of a number of people who had been identified as involved in contra-guerrilla murders, including those of Mr. Kaya and his friend, but the police failed to locate them.

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