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New compensation rules after villagers forced from their homes to live in extreme poverty

Doğan and Others v. Turkey  | 2004

New compensation rules after villagers forced from their homes to live in extreme poverty

Background

Until 1994, a group of villagers lived in Boydaş, a small settlement in South-Eastern Turkey. They were evicted from their homes by the government, and not allowed to return for almost ten years. The villagers were given no money or alternative housing, and they lived in extreme poverty. The evacuation had reportedly been carried out for counter-terrorism purposes.

The case of the Boydaş villagers highlighted a wider problem in South-Eastern Turkey: 1,500 similar cases had been registered with the Strasbourg court.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The court recognised that the threat of terrorism meant the Turkish authorities needed to take extraordinary steps, including restricting access to certain villages. However, the government also had a duty to enable the villagers to return to their homes, or to resettle elsewhere. Yet the villagers had been prevented from returning for almost a decade, living in extreme poverty and without any resources from the government. There were also no laws in force that would entitle them to compensation. 

The court said that this breached their rights to property, family life and the home.

Follow-up

A new law introduced compensation for damages suffered during anti-terrorist activities. This included property being inaccessible or destroyed, as well as injury, disability and death.

The villagers of Boydaş were awarded compensation.