Subscribe Here

Joint action letter to UN Special Rapporteurs: Continued Call for Effective Investigation into Tahir Elçi’s Death

02 March 2021

In November 2020, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and 42 international human rights organisations and bar associations expressed concern 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.

Now, the 48 undersigned request urgent action ahead of the next hearing on 03 March 2021 in the criminal trial of those accused of killing Tahir Elçi, from the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism and Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

The undersigned request the Turkish authorities to ensure a fair trial by an impartial and independent tribunal (respecting the procedural rights of Tahir Elçi’s family), as well as carry out a prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation into his death.

Tahir Elçi was the Chair of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, southeast Turkey, when he was killed on November 28, 2015, during a press statement in Diyarbakır. He was also a member of the Human Rights Association, Advisory Board to the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Human Rights Center, and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV). With regards to Tahir Elçi’s death, the we urge 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 the procedure and the evidence;
  5. Where submissions 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. Mr. 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 full statement here.