Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ECHR: Compensation for Ban of Kurdish Newspapers

Submitted by Tsiatsan on Wednesday, October 21 2009
güncel Erol ÖNDEROĞLU 21.10.2009-Turkey was convicted by the ECHR of putting several newspapers to silence. 26 journalists from 4 Kurdish newspapers had applied to the European court. Turkey has to pay thousands of Euros in compensation to the complainants. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Turkey of violating freedom of expression and acknowledged the rights of 26 employees from 4 different newspapers which had reported about the Kurdish Initiative.
The complainants were newspaper owners, publishing directors, editorial directors, news editors and journalists from the Ülke Özgür Gündem, Gündem, Güncel and Gerçek Demokrasi newspapers. They applied to the ECHR concerning article 10 from the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression in the context of the trial in Turkey.

ECHR decreed for compensation
The ECHR's conviction concerned article 6/last paragraph of the Anti-Terror Law applied by the Turkish Constitutional Court accusing the newspapers of incongruity to the constitution and implementing a 1 month ban for each of the papers.
The ECHR decreed for amounts between 5,000 € and 40,000 € per person in pecuniary compensation. Another 1,800 € in compensation for damages for mental anguish has to paid for each of the applicants plus the coverage of the court fees of 4,800 €.

Unanimous decisison against disproportional measures
Apart from a ban of Ülkede Özgür Gündem newspaper, owner Ali Gürbüz was tried by a Turkish court under charges such as "PKK/Kongra-Gel propaganda" and convicted to the payment of 217,000 €.

2 accusations were filed against Gürbüz and Gündem Newspaper publishing director Özlem Aktan; Gündem and Güncel newspaper owner Lüfti Ürper was facing 3 accusations. Additionally, a court case had been opened against Gerçek Demokrasi newspaper owner Hüseyin Bektaş.

Between November 2006 and October 2007 the 4 newspapers continuously received publication bans for durations of 15 days to 1 month. The ECHR evaluated those bans as "disproportional measures", "Not only was the publication of a certain issue of the newspaper banned, but also the following issues which contents were not related to the matter were banned. The allegations against the applicants were registered by the local court without prosecution".

As a result, the decisions of the publication bans influenced the applicants in a way that they refrained from further reporting about similar topics and these decisions obstructed their professional activities.

The ECHR delegation consisted of 7 people, also including the Turkish judge Işıl Karakaş. The verdict was decided unanimously. (EÖ/VK)