HRiP is part of the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project. Working with Turkish lawyers and activists and colleagues at the University of Middlesex, the project seeks to support more effective use of the courts and legal strategy to address the immense human rights challenges arising in Turkey today.

Ayşe Çelik case - before the turkish CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

Ayşe Çelik was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to a custodial sentence for the broad-reaching and ill-defined crime of ‘disseminating propaganda’ in favour of a terrorist organisation (under Article 7/(2) of Law no. 3713 on the Fight Against Terrorism). Her purported offence consists of comments made during a telephone call to a television show stating that in South East Turkey “unborn children, mothers and people are being killed” and that the media must “not keep silent”. Helen Duffy and Philip Leach presented a joint expert opinion to the Turkish Constitutional Court in September 2018, examining international law standards on the criminalisation and prosecution of crimes of expression. The opinion is available here.

On 9 May 2019 the Turkish Constitutional Court issued its judgment in the case, finding that the imprisonment of Ayşe Çelik constituted a violation of freedom of expression, requesting both a retrial and an end to the violation. A detailed analysis of the judgment can be found here.

CURFEW CASES - before the European Court of Human Rights

24 hour curfews imposed by the Turkish government in parts of South East Turkey and their devastating human rights impact is being challenged in a series of cases pending before the ECtHR. The applicants in the Tunc v Turkey cases, for example, were shot by the security forces, denied access to medical care and left to die in an area under curfew, despite an interim measures order in their favour from the ECtHR. The curfew cases as a whole address violations of the right to life, arbitrary detention, impact on private and family life, the associated impunity of the security forces and lack of effective remedies for victims in Turkish courts. A third party intervention by the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner in the curfew cases is available here. HRiP acts as adviser to counsel in the Tunc case which was heard by the ECtHR on 13 November 2018.


The case of Mehmet Osman Kavala v. Turkey, currently before the ECtHR, concerns the October 2017 arrest and pre-trial detention of a highly regarded civil society leader, publisher and human rights defender. Mehmet Osman Kavala has worked with and supported a variety of civil projects aimed at promoting open dialogue, peace, minority and human rights, and democratic values. While an official indictment has not been filed, charges against him include: attempting to abolish the constitutional order and overthrow the government by using force under Articles 309 and 321 of the Turkish Criminal Code, on account of his support of and involvement in the organisation and financing of Gezi protests and alleged involvement in corruption and the failed coup d’etat. The case against Kavala is emblematic of prevalent trends in Turkey, where arbitrary detention and prosecution of human rights defenders is widespread, with insidious implications for human rights and the rule of law. On behalf of the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project and PEN International, a third party intervention was submitted to the Court, available here, outlining international law standards, including on the protection of human rights defenders.