ECtHR: Turkish courts fail to protect Turkish national portrayed as suicide bomber

By Emil Weber

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decided on November 21st that the Turkish domestic justice has failed to protect the right to private life of a citizen portrayed in the media as a suicide bomber.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg (photo: Nicoleon, Cour européenne des droits de l'homme, CC BY-SA 4.0) The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg (photo: Nicoleon, Cour européenne des droits de l'homme, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Ms Hülya Tarman, a Turkish national living in Cologne (Germany), was among three persons investigated in spring 2007 by the Turkish authorities in the city of Diyarbakır for threat and blackmail. Eventually, in October 2007 the public prosecutor brought to the court a criminal proceeding against only one person, while it dismissed the case against Ms Tarman.

However, on a same day in June 2007, two newspapers, Takvim and Star, published reports saying that there was an ongoing investigation against four suicide bombers trained by the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK). Both newspapers published the photo of Ms Tarman; while the first published also her full name, the second published the initials.

Ms Tarman’s separate appeals against the newspaper articles were ultimately dismissed by the Diyarbakır Civil Court and the Court of Cassation, as they found the press had behaved in a consistent manner with the “appearances at the date of publication” of the articles.

But, Ms Tarman  argued at The European Court of Human Rights that she had become a public’s target after “her identity had been divulged” causing her to fear for her life.  

The top European human rights court has ruled that the Turkish domestic justice failed to provide protection of Ms Tarman’s right to private life - which includes a person’s reputation.

The ECtHR said the national courts “satisfied themselves” with verifying the conformity of the content of the articles in question with appearances of the case under investigation at the time, but, it added, they did not weigh the right of Ms Tarman to private life with the right of the press to freedom of expression.

“The decisions of the national courts do not provide a satisfactory answer to the question of whether the freedom of the press could justify […] the interference on (Ms Tarman’s) right to the protection of the reputation by the form and content of the disputed articles, which revealed the identity and the photo of the applicant by presenting her as a dangerous terrorist, while she was only suspected of the offenses of threat and blackmail”, the ECtHR judgment read.

Ms Tarman was awarded 1,500 Euros in non-pecuniary damages.

Case of Tarman v. Turkey, application no. 63903/10. 21 November 2017

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Source information: This article was originally published by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom –