Lawyers of Abdullah Öcalan submit urgent petition to UN

Asrın Law Office referred to the prevention of Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan's visits by family and lawyers to the UN and called for "urgent action."

According to Mezopotamya Agency, lawyers of the Asrın Law Office requested that the issue of family and lawyer denied visits to Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş, who are held in İmralı, be examined by the United Nations UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Periodic applications have been made to the Constitutional Court, the Ministry of Justice, the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission, the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, the Directorate of Penitentiary Institution and the Execution Judge regarding the violations of rights. The lawyers also underlined that they have not received any positive results from their applications and added that their clients were detained anu visit being held in a permanent "incommunicado" status.

In the application the lawyers reminded of Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (IASP) which states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This right is absolute, the prohibition of torture cannot be violated under any circumstances, including in a state of emergency or war” and Article 10 which says that “everyone deprived of their liberty has the right to humane treatment and respect for the inherent human dignity”.

Pointing out that the case law followed by the United Nations Human Rights Council does not and will not discriminate between inhuman or degrading treatment, the lawyers said: “Restrictions or disciplinary sanctions cannot be heavy enough to amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under no circumstances. Indefinite solitary confinement, extended solitary confinement, and collective punishment are torture practices that are specifically prohibited (United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, art. 43). Keeping in solitary confinement refers to holding a prisoner for more than 22 hours or a day without meaningful human contact.”

The application also stated: “Extended solitary confinement refers to detention for more than 15 consecutive days. Solitary confinement is used only in exceptional cases, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent control, only with the permission of the competent authority.

The lawyers said that their clients are kept in isolation indefinitely, they are not allowed to have any communication with the outside, and they are forbidden to meet with their family members and lawyers for a long time.

Asrın Law Office lawyers noted that their clients' contact with the outside world is strictly prohibited and emphasized that the current situation of their clients should be evaluated as a kind of "incommunicado" detention and said that this situation is absolutely against international human rights.

In this new application, the following decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Abdullah Öcalan's application on 18 March 2014 were also mentioned: “The absence of communication means to prevent social isolation (no television in his cell for a long time and no right to make a phone call) is in terms of access to information. Taking into account the excessive restrictions imposed on visitors (family members and lawyers) and the continuing existence of obstacles to access to the penitentiary institution, it has been determined that the conditions of the Imrali Prison constitute a violation of the prohibition of torture.”

In the application, it was stated that they had not received any news from their clients since 25 March 2021 and that their clients have remained in much more severe isolation conditions since the Imralı Prison decision given by the ECHR. "This situation contains all kinds of potential risks," said the lawyers.

Lawyers of Asrın Law Office also said: “We do not have the slightest information about the conditions under which our clients are held. We are not aware of the opportunities to go out to the yard, the periods of meeting with each other, the possibilities of accessing printed, visual and audio publications. Continuing to keep our clients in these conditions, not providing the conditions where they can feel safe and able to monitor their safety, and not allowing them to communicate with their lawyers or their families and the outside world as a whole constitutes a violation of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment guaranteed in Article 7 of the IASP.”

The lawyers said that their clients are being kept in complete isolation from the outside world. No news has been heard from them for 13 months, they are deeply concerned about their health status, and conditions of detention.

The lawyers demand that necessary steps be taken, particularly a visit to the Imrali F-type prison, in order to determine the safety of the clients.