Turkey Tribunal working on complaint to be submitted to Int’l Criminal Court

The Turkey Tribunal, a civil society-led, symbolic international tribunal, said it had started working on a complaint to be filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC) following a session the tribunal held in Geneva in September.

According to a tweet, the tribunal expert team will work on the application for six weeks and then submit its complaint on human rights violations in Turkey to the ICC.

The tribunal, set up under the initiative of Belgian-based law firm Van Steenbrugge Advocaten (VSA), met in Geneva between September 21 and 25.

The judges of the tribunal announced their verdict in Geneva on September 25, saying the torture and abductions perpetrated by Turkish state officials since July 2016 could amount to crimes against humanity in an application lodged with an appropriate international body.

Presiding judge Françoise Barones Tulkens stated that the opinion was not legally binding but may serve as a source, with moral authority, for raising awareness. Tulkens said the tribunal received credible accounts of torture, adding that the abduction cases before the judges amounted to enforced disappearances.

The tribunal’s panel of judges included 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 panel of judges heard the testimony of witnesses who have been victims of human rights violations.

Several prominent human rights experts and organizations provided 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); the Ankara Bar Association (Turkey) and Johan Heymans, a human rights lawyer; and Philippe Leruth (Belgium), former president of the International Federation of Journalists.

Among the observers of the tribunal were Marie Arena, a Belgian politician and chairwoman of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights; Kathleen Van Brempt, another Belgian politician and a member of the European Parliament (MEP); and Filipe Marques, president of European Judges for Democracy and Freedoms (MEDEL).

Governed by an international treaty called the Rome Statute, the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court. The court investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

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