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Europe rights court finds Turkey responsible for bombing civilians in 1994

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Tuesday called on the Turkish government [press release, PDF] to investigate the bombing of two villages that killed 33 civilians in 1994. A unanimous court issued its preliminary judgment, finding Turkey in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights for the death of 33 civilians, the "extremely inadequate investigation," the lack of humanitarian aid to deal with the aftermath of the attack, and the withholding of vital evidence. The court also urged the Turkish government "to identify and punish those responsible for the bombing ... and prevent further impunity." The Turkish government has maintained that the attack was carried out by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an illegal organization. However, the court found that "almost no steps had been taken immediately after the bombing to investigate what had happened, and when the incident had actually been looked into the investigators were not independent, formed baseless conclusions on extremely minimal investigations, and attempted to withhold the investigation documents from the applicants." However, because investigations are still open at the national level, the court's ruling is not final.

Turkey has recently received criticism regarding human rights, particularly following the violent protests that began in Istanbul this summer. In July the Council of Europe (COE) Commissioner for Human Rights urged an investigation [JURIST report] into Turkey's "extremely disproportionate" use of police force against anti-government protesters. In June the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Turkish government to ensure the rights of its citizens [JURIST report] to assemble freely and in a peaceful manner. Earlier in June the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights commended the Turkish government's decision to delay government construction that was being protested by Turkish citizens and urged authorities to work to defuse tensions [JURIST report]. Also in June, the Human Rights Watch called on Turkish police to use non-violent tactics [JURIST report] against citizen protests.

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