Osmanoglu v. Turkey
Relatives as Victims | State/Non-State Agents | Duty to Investigate | Obligation to Prevent | Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence
Observing that the victim's abduction showed many similarities with the disappearances of other persons in south-east Turkey at the relevant time, and taking into account that no information had come to light on his whereabouts for more than 11 years, the Court held that the victim must be presumed dead. It also confirmed that the disappearance of a person in life-threatening circumstances requires the State to take operational measures to protect their right to life, especially when they had previously been threatened. The Court highlighted a number of steps which could have been taken by the investigating authorities: (a) an inspection of the relevant premises to which the victim might have been brought; (b) the making of enquiries and the taking of statements from those in custody at the time of the disappearance; (c) the making of enquiries and the taking of statements from the officers who were on duty on the relevant dates; and (d) attempts to secure potential eyewitnesses to the incident. The Court concluded that the authorities failed to take the reasonable measures available to them to protect the victim from a real and immediate risk to his life. The Court was unable to make a finding of unacknowledged detention by State authorities since it did not establish who might have been responsible for the victim’s disappearance.
April 24, 2008
Article 2 (substantive) [ECHR], Article 2 (procedural) [ECHR], Article 3 [ECHR]
Articles not violated / not dealt with
Article 5 [ECHR], Article 8 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR], Article 14 [ECHR], Article 38 [ECHR]
Facts of the Case
Mr. Atilla Osmanoğlu, a Turkish national of Kurdish origin, was threatened by an officer in February 1992. In 1996, two men visited his shop and asked him to go with them. When he refused to go, they started making telephone calls speaking in code. Mr. Osmanoğlu was reportedly worried about the incident. He was abducted in his shop and brought to a car by the same armed men in March 1996. The two men told his father that they were police officers, that they were taking his son to police headquarters, and that they would release him soon. Following his son's disappearance, Mr. Osmanoğlu's father applied to public authorities on several occasions. In July 2005, a newspaper published a purported confession made by an allegedly former agent of the anti-terror intelligence branch of the gendarmerie, describing the abduction and subsequent killing of Mr. Osmanoğlu, whose body was reportedly thrown into a disused oil tanker. The body was found in a poorly conserved state on 30 March 1996. Mr. Osmanoğlu's father had been unable to identify the deceased as his son.