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Call for Effective Investigation into Tahir Elçi’s Death

30 November 2020

The Netherlands Helsinki Committee, along with 42 human rights organisations and bar associations, is concerned that the investigation into the death of previous President of the Diyarbakır Bar Association (Turkey) and human rights defender Tahir Elçi, as well as the court before which this case is being heard, are failing to respect fair trial rights. We are further troubled by the Turkish authorities’ continued violation of Turkey’s international legal obligations to carry out a prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation into the death of one of its citizens and to ensure a fair trial by an impartial and independent tribunal of those accused of the killing of Tahir Elçi. The first hearing in this case have raised significant doubts as to whether future proceedings will be independent, impartial, and capable of establishing the facts and truth around the killing of Mr. Elçi and holding those responsible for his killing accountable, in accordance with international law.

We are also concerned that the rights of the family of Tahir Elçi have not been respected during the criminal proceedings, as required by the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure. Mr. Elçi’s family members have not been assured of their rights to full and effective remedies and a fair trial, as guaranteed by Turkey’s national and international obligations.

 We call on the Turkish authorities to ensure that:

  1. The case is heard by an independent, impartial, and competent court that is capable of establishing the facts and truth around the killing of Mr. Elçi;
  2. All future hearings comply with international standards regarding the right to a fair trial, in which the victims’ rights are also recognised;
  3. The hostile attitude from the court towards the Elçi family and their lawyers and the court’s persistent refusal to follow the rules of procedure and principles of both domestic and international law are not repeated in future hearings;
  4. The lawyers for the Elçi family are given reasonable opportunities to be heard and to make their applications in relation to procedure and evidence;
  5. Where applications are refused, reasons for refusal are given in accordance with the case law of the ECtHR;
  6. Following a fair judicial procedure, those who are responsible for Mr. Elçi’s killing are held accountable and serve sentences appropriate to the gravity of the crime committed; and
  7. Elçi’s family is provided with appropriate redress for the violations they and their loved one have suffered in accordance with the international obligations of Turkey and the Minnesota Protocol.

Read the joint statement here.