Belgian politician and lawyer Johan Vande Lanotte, who has been involved in politics for many years and served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy in Belgium in recent years, commented on the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding Yüksel Yalçınkaya, which was handed down after 7 years. Lanotte emphasized that Turkey has clear obligations to address the shortcomings identified in the decision in order to prevent or redress similar violations in the future.
Johan Vande Lanotte, who is currently serving as the director of the Turkey Tribunal, which was established in Geneva, was one of the founders of this tribunal.
Lanotte stated, “Turkey has clear obligations to address the shortcomings identified in the decision in order to prevent or redress similar violations in the future.” He regarded the decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as a “landmark decision” and emphasized that the court found violations of many important articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), including Article 7 (no punishment without law), Article 6 (right to a fair trial), and Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association).
Lanotte continued, “The conviction of Mr. Yalçınkaya was based on the use of ByLock, an encrypted messaging application similar to Signal and Telegram, and Turkish local courts decided that it was designed for the exclusive use of a group called the ‘Gülen Movement,’ referred to as ‘F…/PDY’ by Turkish state authorities. Approximately 270,000 people were convicted of membership in the ‘F…/PDY’ terrorist organization between 2015 and 2021, and criminal investigations and prosecutions are still ongoing in Turkey. Most of these individuals were convicted based on allegations of using ByLock and their membership in unions or other associations that were closed down for their alleged affiliation with the ‘Gülen Movement’ after the 2016 coup.”
Lanotte explained that the Grand Chamber found that these convictions based on ByLock usage violated fundamental principles of the ECHR, including Articles 6 and 7, and highlighted that the victims of these arbitrary judicial decisions were almost automatically deemed guilty, making it nearly impossible for them to exonerate themselves, which contradicted the ByLock evidence.
Johan Vande Lanotte continued, “More importantly, the Grand Chamber emphasized that the nature of the problems that led to these violations is systematic. In this context, the Grand Chamber called on Turkey to take the necessary measures to address these systemic issues, especially regarding the Turkish judiciary’s approach to ByLock evidence.”
The Turkish Court has repeatedly emphasized that hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been victims of mass arbitrary convictions and imprisonment. In the Yalçınkaya decision, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR has definitively confirmed this finding. Following today’s decision, the Turkish Court calls for Turkey to fulfill its obligations, including individual measures such as reopening the criminal trial to provide compensation to Mr. Yalçınkaya, as well as general measures to address the shortcomings identified in the decision, both to prevent or redress similar violations in the future, potentially including the restoration of the rights of other victims of the same violations. Turkey has clear obligations to address the shortcomings identified in the decision in order to prevent or redress similar violations in the future.