Masterminds Still not Condemned, Ten Years After the Assassination of Journalist Hrant Dink

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Year 19 Jan 2017 Country Turkey Category Impunity for murder Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 1
19 Jan 2017 Turkey Impunity for murder State EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 1
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On 19 January 2007, Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist and founder of Agos newspaper, was shot dead at 15:05 on the street in front of his office in Istanbul. The murderer, a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist, and some of his accomplices were apprehended and imprisoned but not all parties involved in the crime have been investigated. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkish authorities have failed to protect Hrant Dink’s rights to life and freedom of expression. Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that that civil servants and institutions must be investigated for their alleged roles in the journalist’s murder. Public servants who allegedly failed to protect the journalist and prepared false reports are currently being prosecuted at Istanbul 14th penal court.

Follow-ups

19 Jan 2017 : Ten years on, OSCE media freedom representative calls the authorities of Turkey to increase their efforts to ensure that justice is served in the case of journalist Hrant Dink

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

19 Jan 2017 : Case of Dink v.Turkey, ECHR Judgment of 14 September 2010 (Applications n°2668/07, 6102/08, 30079/08, 7072/09 and 7124/09) : Failure of authorities to protect life of a journalist following death threats and to protect freedom of expression of a journalist who had commented on identity of Turkish citizens of Armenian extraction

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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