Öcalan wins again

The European Court of Human Rights has on 18 March 2013 delivered judgment (summary in English) in Abdullah Öcalan v Turkey (no 2, 24069/03, 197/04, 6201/06 and 10464/07). This is already the second time that the Court dealt with the complaint by Mr Öcalan, the founder of Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The same Court examined his first complaint already in 2005 when it found that Turkey violated several articles (Articles 5 (3 and 4) and Article 3 of ECHR) during and following his arrest at the Nairobi airport and his subsequent transfer to Turkey (no. 46221/99, 12.5.2005).  This time around Mr Öcalan complained of his inhumane detention conditions on the island of İmralı, where he was held alone for nearly 11 years, until 17 November 2009. The Court agreed and found violation in respect of the inhumane conditions of his detention (Article 3). More specifically, the Court held that :

les conditions de détention imposées au requérant pendant cette période ont atteint le seuil minimum de gravité requis pour constituer un traitement inhumain au sens de l’article 3 de la Convention. (para. 146)

The Court also held that the sentence of life imprisonment amounts to the violation of inhuman treatment under Article 3 of ECHR as his prison sentence was found to be »irreducible« (para. 207). Turkey is now obliged to offer Mr Öcalan procedural possibility to challenge his sentence of life imprisonment as unjustified. All in all, this case represent a symbolic victory for Mr Öcalan but it remains to bee seen how quickly and if at all Turkey will execute the judgment.

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