Orhan v. Turkey

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

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

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

Considering that no information was provided on the whereabouts of the victims for almost 8 years, the Court held that they must be presumed dead following an unacknowledged detention by the security forces, finding the State responsible for their death. In particular, the Court found it possible that an unacknowledged detention could be life-threatening in the context of the situation in south-east Turkey in 1994, which fostered a lack of accountability in regards to members of the security forces for their actions, as evidenced by the fact that the police knew little of the military's activities and exercised no control over them. The Court held that it could not be found that the victims were subjected to ill-treatment, because when they were last seen in the hands of the security forces they appeared in good health. It made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victims' relatives, due to the uncertainty and apprehension they suffered over a prolonged and continuing period.

Judgment Date

November 6, 2002

Country

Turkey

Judicial Body

European Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 2 (procedural) [ECHR], Article 2 (substantive) [ECHR], Article 3 [ECHR], Article 5 [ECHR], Article 8 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR], Article 34 [ECHR], Article 38 [ECHR], Article 1 [P1ECHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 14 [ECHR], Article 18 [ECHR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Selim, Hasan and Cezayir Orhan ("the Orhans") were apprehended at their house in May 1994 by State security forces during a raid conducted against their village, in the context of counter-insurgency measures taken against the PKK. The soldiers explained that their commander wanted to see them and that they could come back to the village afterwards. Later that day, they were seen with the soldiers in a neighbouring village, and appeared in good health. The victims' relatives tried to enquire with the police about their whereabouts but obtained no information, and also filed complaints to a number of authorities. A few weeks after the Orhans' disappearance a person who had been detained in a boarding school with them told their family that at the time they appeared to be “in a bad way”. Three investigations on the detention and disappearance of the victims were initiated, and some of them were carried out by civil servants linked to the security forces under investigation. None of these investigations brought any result.

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