17.3 C
Frankfurt am Main

Critics slam ICC prosecutor for meeting with Turkish FM accused of crimes against humanity

Must read

Bünyamin Tekin

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor, Karim Khan, is under fire for meeting with Turkey’s foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference this weekend.

Fidan, the former head of Turkey’s intelligence agency (MİT), is accused of involvement in crimes against humanity in a communication sent to the ICC.

The communication sent to the ICC by a law firm, an NGO and a European judges association in 2023 alleges widespread and systematic human rights abuses committed by the Turkish government against its opponents and seeks an ICC investigation into these alleged crimes.

It includes details of torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary imprisonment and persecution, claiming these acts meet the ICC’s definition of crimes against humanity.

The communication details abductions from several countries, school closures in 13 signatory states to the Rome Statute that recognize the ICC and discriminatory passport and ID practices in 29 states.

While Turkey is not an ICC member state, the communication cites a precedent where the court investigated alleged crimes committed by officials of a non-member state with implications for member states.

MİT was the organization behind most of the crimes against humanity alleged against the Turkish government in the communication to the ICC.

Fidan headed MİT between 2010 and 2023, until he was appointed foreign minister by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in June.

According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Khan briefed Fidan on the ICC’s ongoing investigation into alleged crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.

Meeting sparks indignation

The Turkey Tribunal VZW, an NGO dedicated to investigating rights abuses in Turkey, which was one of the parties that sent the communication detailing Turkish officials’ alleged crimes against humanity to the ICC, condemned Khan’s meeting with Fidan on X.

The organization questioned why the prosecutor didn’t urge Turkey to uphold European Court of Human Rights rulings that found systemic issues with Turkey’s justice system.

Turkey Tribunal VZW is a Belgian-based NGO that set up a civil society-led tribunal to adjudicate recent human rights violations in Turkey including torture, abductions and the right to a fair trial. The tribunal convened in Geneva on September 21, 2021. After four days of hearing victims the panel of judges announced their verdict, saying that the torture and abductions perpetrated by Turkish state officials since July 2016 could amount to crimes against humanity in an application lodged with an appropriate international body.

Following up on that lead, Belgian-based law firm Van Steenbrugge Advocaten (VSA), acting in the name of 40 victims; MEDEL, an association of 18,000 judges and public prosecutors from 16 European countries; and Turkey Tribunal VZW sent a communication addressed to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, claiming that crimes against humanity have been and are being committed in Turkey.

The communication alleges that Turkish officials have committed crimes of “torture,” “enforced disappearances,” “imprisonment in violation of fundamental rules of international law” and “persecution,” which are crimes against humanity as defined by Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

Saying that between 2015 and 2021 the Turkish government launched investigations into 2,217,000 persons on accusations of terrorism and that courts convicted 374,000 persons based on those investigations, the communication claims the imprisonments these convictions led to constitute the crime of imprisonment in violation of fundamental rules of international law.

According to MEDEL, VSA and the Turkey Tribunal’s communication to the ICC, the mass firing of civil servants and private sector staff after a coup attempt in 2016, the withdrawal of passports and consular services from certain Turkish nationals overseas and the closure of schools outside Turkey with ties to the Gülen movement constitute the crime of “persecution.”

At its peak the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. Since a coup attempt in 2016, Turkey has pressured allies to shut down Gülen-run institutions.

President Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a war against the Gülen movement following corruption investigations in late 2013 that implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan’s close circle.

The war against the movement increased after an attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, because Erdoğan and his AKP government accused the movement of masterminding the abortive putsch and initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

A former Turkish judge, who spoke on condition of anonymity, shared with Turkish Minute the letter he had sent to the prosecutor to protest.

“The Turkey Tribunal has submitted a detailed criminal complaint to your office, outlining these grave abuses and identifying likely perpetrators within the Turkish government. Disconcertingly, despite the overwhelming evidence and public nature of these crimes, the ICC has made no visible progress in initiating an investigation,” the judge wrote to Khan.

“Furthermore, your recent discussions and shared photographs with Hakan Fidan, former head of MİT and a potential key figure in the alleged abductions, have caused profound alarm among victims of the Turkish government’s oppression. Trust in the ICC’s commitment to justice is diminishing,” he said.

“I implore you to take swift and decisive action. The credibility of the ICC is at stake. Victims of this far-reaching persecution deserve justice, and the world needs a clear message that human rights violations will not be tolerated.”

Liked it? Take a second to support Turkish Minute on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
More News
Latest News