Turkey: Starch factory human rights dispute pits environmentalists against national authorities

Tomorrow is judgement day in a human rights dispute pitting Turkish authorities against lawyers and environmentalists, over the construction and operation of a starch factory on farmland.

The European Court of Human Rights judgement in the case Bursa Barosu Başkanlığı and Others v. Turkey (no. 25680/05) is expected on Tuesday 19 June.

The applicants are, on the one hand, Bursa Barosu Başkanlıǧı (Bursa Bar Association) and the Association for the Protection of Nature and the Environment (based in Bursa, Turkey), and on the other, 21 applicants, Turkish nationals who were born between 1947 and 1980 and who live in Bursa.

The case concerns the failure to enforce numerous judicial decisions setting aside administrative decisions authorising the construction and operation of a starch factory on farmland in Orhangazi (a district of Bursa) by a US company (“Cargill”).

The factory, which was built between 1998 and 2000, began production in 2000 and is still operating.

Relying on Article 2 (right to life), Article 6 (right to a fair trial), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), the applicants complain of the protracted failure to execute the final, enforceable decisions setting aside the administrative decisions which had authorised the construction and operation of the starch factory.

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