Top court rules rejection of environmental activist’s lawsuit against mining project violated his rights

Activist Sedat Cezayirlioğlu

The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that the rejection of an environmental activist’s lawsuit against a mining project in Erzincan, where a recent landslide at a gold mine buried nine workers and caused major environmental damage, violated his rights enshrined in the constitution, Turkish Minute reported on Friday, citing local media.

Sedat Cezayirlioğlu, a local environmental activist known for his years of campaigning against gold mining in the region, filed a lawsuit against a favorable environmental impact assessment (ÇED) for a private company’s project to increase the production capacity of the Çakmaktepe mine in the İliç district.

After the administrative court rejected the complaint, the activist turned to the Constitutional Court in 2020, claiming a violation of his right to respect for his private life.

On January 25, the court found Cezayirlioğlu’s application to be justified and unanimously ruled that there had been a violation of his rights.

In its decision, the court emphasized that the failure to respond directly to certain of the activist’s claims led to the conclusion that the authorities had not fulfilled their obligations with regard to the right to respect for private life.

The top court sent a copy of its decision to the Erzincan Administrative Court for a reopening of the case.

Cezayirlioğlu was also briefly detained for comments he made in videos posted on social media in response to the landslide at at the gold mine in İliç.

The tragedy occurred on February 13 at the Çöpler gold mine in Erzincan province when a massive landslide sent some 10 million cubic meters of soil contaminated with cyanide and sulfuric acid sliding down the 200-meter-high slope of the heap leach pad.

Cezayirlioğlu had warned that the masses of earth contained large amounts of cyanide that could affect the entire region if they were to contaminate nearby dams and reservoirs.

The Turkish authorities usually impose news blackouts, restrict social media and ban gatherings after natural disasters that could provoke criticism of the government’s crisis management.

After devastating earthquakes on February 6 of last year, Turkey temporarily restricted access to X, formerly Twitter, and detained numerous social media users for their comments.

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