Europe rights court rules Turkey failed to protect murdered journalist

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [judgment, in French; press release] Tuesday that Turkey failed to protect the life of well-known Turkish-Armenian writer and journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], failed to adequately investigate his murder and infringed on his right of freedom of expression. The court ordered Turkey to pay €100,000 to Dink's wife and three children and €5,000 euros to his brother Hosref, as well as €28,595 for costs and expenses. Dink, editor of the newspaper Agos [media website], was shot and killed [JURIST report] in Istanbul in January 2007. In Tuesday's decision, the court noted that law enforcement officials in both Trabzon and Istanbul, Turkey, and the Trabzon gendarmerie, had been informed of the likelihood of an assassination attempt and even of the identity of the suspected instigators, but failed to act with information, thus depriving Dink of his right to life as envisaged in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. The court also held that the investigation into Dink's murder was substandard, violating both Article 2 and Article 13—the right to an effective remedy. Finally, the court considered issues related to litigation against Dink prior to his death stemming from comments he made about the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. Here the court found a violation of the Article 10 right to freedom of expression, noting that a state must not just refrain from interfering in an individual's freedom of expression, but is also under a "positive obligation" to protect that person's right to freedom of expression from attack, even by private individuals.

Prior to his death, Dink was tried and then put on retrial [JURIST report] for "insulting Turkishness" by writing about the killing of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire. Dink's son Arat was convicted [JURIST report] of insulting Turkishness in October 2007 after he attempted to republish remarks made by his father before his murder. The prohibition against insulting Turkish identity is found in Article 301 [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] of Turkey's penal code [text, in Turkish]. The trial of suspects allegedly involved in Dink's murder began [JURIST reports] in July 2007.

 

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