ISTANBUL: Nebahat Akkoc says her life began afresh after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2000 that she had suffered torture while in Turkish custody, emboldening her and others to carry on their fight for women’s rights.
Now she fears Turks could lose such protections as Turkiye faces removal from the Council of Europe, a leading human rights body, after it failed to implement a 2019 court ruling to release jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala.
The CoE’s Committee of Ministers has launched infringement proceedings against Ankara that have so far stressed dialogue but could eventually see Turkiye’s removal or its membership suspended, experts say.
Asked about potential measures, a CoE spokesperson said it was for the Committee to decide on steps and their timing.
ECHR data shows it delivered 3,820 judgments regarding Turkiye between 1959 and 2021, of which 3,385 included at least one rights violation — the highest of any country. Turkiye has the largest population among the 46 member states and signed the convention before many of them.
It is the second time that proceedings have been launched against a member state.
In the previous instance, Azerbaijan eventually executed a ruling.
While the consequences are not outlined, experts say Turkiye should not be removed as that would deprive 85 million citizens of a mechanism that has provided restitution for thousands.
“I hope the Council of Europe does not deal the final blow,” said Akkoc, a prominent women’s rights defender.
“I hope (Turkish) authorities implement the rulings by the ECHR and that we are not completely severed from the Western world.”
She said Turkiye’s refusal to implement ECHR rulings made her “pessimistic.”
But if it were no longer bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, the rule of law in Turkiye would be void, she added.