Turkey: Şebnem Korur Fincancı from HRFT sentenced to 2,5 years in prison

Urgent Appeal
Crédit: Berge Arabian

TUR 001 / 0119 / OBS 001
Judicial harassment
January 4, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the conviction and sentencing of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, an academic and President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT). Since 1990, she has contributed to the access of more than 17,000 torture survivors and their relatives to treatment and rehabilitation services in Turkey and also in the most challenging contexts around the world.

According to the information received, on December 19, 2018, the İstanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court, during its fifth hearing, convicted and sentenced in first instance Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı to two years and six months in prison for having signed a declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” prepared by Academics for Peace. Other information related to her human rights work, including interviews and a report on human rights violations in Cizre [1] (in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey), were also added as criminal evidence against her in the case. This is one of the harshest sentences pronounced against signatories of the declaration.

Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı intends to appeal this decision as soon as the full ruling will be made public. Meanwhile the sentence will not be enforced.

On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled "We will not be party to this crime", calling for peace and denouncing human rights violations in the country, on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative. The number of signatories later reached the total of 2,212.

The declaration was followed by public comments from the authorities calling for the criminalisation of signatories and lawsuits were then filed against some of the academics on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" as per Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.

As of December 27, 2018, 444 academics had stood trial. 69 of these academics were given sentences ranging between one year and three months to two years and six months in prison. All but eight sentences are suspended.

The Observatory recalls that Ms. Fincancı, together with others, is also being tried in another criminal case for taking part in a solidarity campaign in support of the right to freedom of the press, and more particularly for acting as symbolic co-editors of the daily Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the sentencing of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı which seems to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities, and calls on the Turkish authorities to end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level against all the human rights defenders in Turkey.

Actions requested:
Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı ;
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and against all human rights defenders in Turkey;
iii. Until all charges are dropped, ensure that all proceedings against Ms. Şebnem Korur Fincancı are carried out in compliance with her right to a fair trial, as protected under international law;
iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.


President of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, Email: contact@tccb.gov.tr
Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu, Fax: +90 312 420 51 65
Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdülhamit Gül, Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; Email: info@adalet.gov.tr
Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu, Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Dr. Sadık Ahmet Cad, No: 8 Balgat, Ankara, Turkey 06100.
Minister of Health, Mr. Fahrettin Koca, Email: eposta@saglik.gov.tr
President of Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Mr. Binali Yıldırım, Email: binali.yildirim@tbmm.gov.tr
Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
Ambassador Mr. Ali Naci Koru, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: mission.turkey@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country. 
Paris-Geneva, January 4, 2019
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] Civil society organization and international institutions such as the UN Human Rights Office have reported allegations of massive destruction, killings and numerous other serious human rights violations committed between July 2015 and December 2016 in southeast Turkey, during Government security operations that affected more than 30 towns and neighbourhoods and displaced between 355,000 and half a million people, mostly of Kurdish origin. See for instance: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21342

Read more