Tribunal set up to rule on Turkey’s human rights record: Chair of EP human rights committee

The Turkey Tribunal was set up to review and rule on Ankara’s human rights record, Marie Arena, chair of the European Parliament (EP) Subcommittee on Human Rights, said on Twitter.

Arena is also an observer at the tribunal during its hearings being held in Geneva this week.

The Turkey Tribunal, a civil society-led, symbolic international tribunal established to adjudicate recent human rights violations in Turkey including torture, abductions, shortcomings in freedom of the press and freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial, convened in Geneva on September 21. The tribunal will announce its verdict on Friday.

The panel of judges is hearing the testimony of witnesses who have been victims of human rights violations.

The tribunal’s panel of judges includes notable figures such as Prof. Em. Dr. Françoise Barones Tulkens, former vice chairperson of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR); Justice Dr. Johann van der Westhuizen, a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; and Prof. Em. Dr. Giorgio Malinverni and Prof. Dr. Ledi Bianku, who served as ECtHR judges.

The tribunal, set up under the initiative of Belgian-based law firm Van Steenbrugge Advocaten (VSA), aims to assess and report “all allegations of human rights violations taking place under the jurisdiction of Turkish authorities,” according to its website.

Several prominent human rights experts and organizations provide the Turkey Tribunal with reports. The group comprises Eric Sottas (Switzerland), former secretary-general of the World Organization against Torture (in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Johan Vande Lanotte); Yves Haeck (Belgium), professor at the University of Ghent and Emre Turkut (Turkey); the Lawyers Collective (Turkey); Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı (Turkey), former head of the İstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine and currently president of the Human Rights Foundation; the Ankara Bar Association (Turkey) and Johan Heymans, a human rights lawyer; and Philippe Leruth (Belgium), former president of the international Federation of Journalists.

In addition to Arena, Kathleen Van Brempt another Belgian politician and a Member of the EP, and Filipe Marques, president of European Judges for Democracy and Freedoms (MEDEL) are observers at the tribunal.

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