Yet Another Conviction for Turkey for Violating Freedom of Expression

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  • October 30, 2019
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has concluded that the freedom of expression of DTP's Hatice Coban was violated after she was convicted due to a speech. The Court has ruled that Turkey shall pay 2,500 Euro in damages.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has pronounced its judgement on Hatice Coban, the Central Executive Committee Member of the then Democratic Society Party (DTP).

The ECtHR has concluded that her freedom of expression was violated and ruled that she shall be paid 2,500 Euro in non-pecuniary damages.

Referring to the Court of Cassation, which reviewed Coban's appeal against her conviction due to a speech, the ECtHR has indicated that the Court of Cassation did not "address the relevant arguments raised by Coban" regarding the police officers who "had not related the full contents of her speech in their report" and "had distorted her words".

"The Court of Cassation had endorsed the Assize Court's findings in a summary fashion, without giving any further consideration to the arguments submitted by Coban ", the ECtHR has underlined. In reference to the verdict of conviction given by the local court, the ECtHR has emphasized that the court "had failed to satisfy the requirements of a fair trial".

Accordingly, the ECtHR has concluded that the freedom of expression of Hatice Coban guaranteed by the Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been violated. The Court has reached this conclusion by reiterating the following factors:

"The domestic courts had not addressed the relevant arguments put forward by Ms Coban regarding the reliability and accuracy of the main item of evidence on which they had relied in support of her conviction, and had not performed their task of weighing up the various interests at stake for the purposes of Article 10 of the Convention.

"National courts could therefore not be said to have applied standards conforming to the principles embodied in Article 10 of the ECHR, or to have based their decisions on an acceptable assessment of relevant facts."

What happened?

Hatice Coban was sentenced to 2 years, 1 month in prison on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" due to a speech that she held as part of World Peace Day events on September 2, 2006. In her speech, Coban defended peace negotiations to be initiated by the government.

In her appeal against the verdict of conviction, she argued that "the police officers who monitored the demonstration did not relate the full contents of her speech in their report and, not having made a recording of her speech, they distorted her words". As an evidence for her allegations, she cited the news reported in the press about her speech. She also underlined that she defended a peaceful resolution for the Kurdish question.

However, neither the heavy penal court, nor the Court of Cassation accepted her appeal and her verdict of conviction was upheld.

Source: English Bianet