Turkey tribunal

The role of VSA

For many years now, VSA has been representing the interests of individual Turkish citizens in cases brought before international bodies for the violation of their fundamental rights by Turkey. For example, VSA successfully defended Ismet Özçelik and Turgay Karaman before the UN Human Rights Committee for their abduction and unlawful deprivation of liberty by Turkey (CCPR/C/125/D/2980/2017, May 2019) . VSA has also conducted several proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights.

Fuelled by these experiences, VSA helped organise the Turkey Tribunal under the leadership of Prof. Em. Johan Vande Lanotte. The project owed its success to the commitment and cooperation of several non-governmental organisations, volunteers and experts and the donations of more than 500 donors.

The Turkey Tribunal

The Turkey Tribunal, which was held in a single session in Geneva from 20 to 24 September 2021, was an international tribunal of opinion that independently assessed and reported on allegations of human rights violations committed under Turkey's jurisdiction in its Opinion.. It did so based on the objective reports of seven independent international experts who had investigated these allegations and on the testimonies put forward during its week-long session. In doing so, the Turkey Tribunal tested the situation in Turkey against the European Convention on Human Rights, other international legal instruments ratified by Turkey and the general principles of international law.


After five days of public hearings, intense debate and serious deliberation, the six independent, international judges sitting on the Turkey Tribunal delivered their unanimous Opinion. In it, they came to the important conclusion that the acts of torture and enforced disappearance committed in Turkey could constitute crimes against humanity if the appropriate body were to look into these matters and proof of the specific knowledge and intent of the individual accused is provided.


With this Opinion in hand, VSA together with its partners and under the leadership of Prof Em. Johan Vande Lanotte takes various initiatives to mobilise public opinion and initiate sanctions so that the perpetrators of massive human rights violations in Turkey would not go unpunished. Here (link) you can read more about the Turkey Tribunal and the next steps in the fight against impunity for human rights violations.