European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Turkey: Court backs MP over intelligence service human rights complaint

Human rights judges have backed a Turkish MP, who complained that the six week interception and surveillance of all electronic communication in the country, amounted to a breach of human rights.

The European Court of Human Rights’ 18 July decision in the case Mustafa Sezgin Tanrıkulu v. Turkey (no. 27473/06) declared a Violation of Article 8 and a Violation of Article 13.

The court held that the finding of a violation constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant Mustafa Sezgin Tanrıkulu. It awarded him EUR 1,200 in respect of costs and expenses.

Tanrıkulu is a member of the Turkish Parliament. The case concerned a domestic court decision that allowed for the interception, monitoring and examination of electronic communications of everyone in Turkey for about a month and a half in 2005.

Former president of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, Tanrıkulu learnt about the decision in June 2005 in a newspaper report. The decision had been taken by the Diyarbakır Assize Court on 6 May 2005; it involved granting the National Intelligence Agency of Turkey permission to intercept all domestic and international communications between 8 April and 30 May 2005 with a view to identifying terrorist suspects.

Shortly after, Mr Tanrıkulu filed a criminal complaint against the judge who had made the Assize Court decision, the public prosecutor and the intelligence officers involved in both requesting as well as implementing the decision. However the prosecuting authorities decided not to prosecute the intelligence officers as implementing court decisions did not constitute a crime; and the Ministry of Justice decided not to take any action against the public prosecutor or judge as their acts had fallen within judicial discretion and the decision of May 2005 had been in the
interests of national security.

Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life, the home and the correspondence), Tanrıkulu complained about the decision of May 2005 allowing the interception of communications of anyone in Turkey, including himself. He alleged in particular that the interception measures amounted to abuse of the national legislation in force at the time.

He also claimed under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) that he had been denied an effective judicial remedy because the national authorities had refused to carry out an investigation into his complaints about the interception of his communications.

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