March 4. 2024. 7:05

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Turkey taken to International Court for ‘crimes against humanity’


A communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which provides evidence of crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Erdogan’s regime after a failed coup in 2016, was sent by a Belgian law firm, a Belgium-based NGO, and a European judges association, it was announced on Wednesday.

Belgian law firm Van Steenbrugge Advocaten (VSA), Belgium-based NGO Turkey Tribunal, and European judges association Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL) announced at a press conference in The Hague that they were filing a complaint against Turkey at the ICC for “crimes against humanity”, Turkish Minutes reported.

The lawyers estimate that 200,000 persons were tortured, disappeared, or incarcerated and convicted without due process in Turkey and other territories, notably Belgium.

Turkey Tribunal set up a civil society-led tribunal to adjudicate human rights violations perpetrated by Ankara. In 2021, the panel of judges announced that the torture and abductions committed by Turkish state officials since July 2016 could amount to crimes against humanity in an application brought to an international court.

Following up on that, VSA, MEDEL and Turkey Tribunal sent a communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, claiming crimes against humanity have been and are being committed by the Turkish regime. The communication lists 1,300 victims that could be prosecuted by the international court.

The lawyers claim Erdogan’s regime perpetrated systematic attacks on the civilian population to promote government policies. They also claim the evidence gathered shows conscious contempt for basic principles of international law.

In the communication, the parties request ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to start investigations under Article 15 of the Rome Statute. The prosecutor now has to decide whether an investigation should be opened, but as the Washington Post reported, the prosecution office receives hundreds of similar submissions from around the world every year, and they rarely lead to an investigation.

Johan Vande Lanotte, a former Belgian minister who currently works for VSA, told VRT that the complaint doesn’t specify who exactly is to blame for the crimes. “In law, that is a matter for the prosecutor,” he said.

Turkey does not recognise the ICC since it is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which establishes genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression as the four core international crimes.

Nevertheless, in their communication, VSA, Turkey Tribunal, and MEDEL underline a 2019 ruling by a chamber of the ICC authorising an investigation on the alleged genocide against Rohingyas despite Myanmar not being a party to the treaty because displaced Rohingya ended up in Bangladesh, which is a state party to the statute.

The communication includes evidence of alleged crimes committed by the Turkish regime in 45 states which are party to the Rome Statute. It notably included abductions in Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Switzerland and the discriminatory withdrawal of passports and non-issuance of ID cards in 29 states, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK.

(Anne-Sophie Gayet | EURACTIV.com)