Turkey Pays Thousands of Dollars in Rights Cases

ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to citizens who successfully applied to the European Court of Human Rights–a government official said.

"In cases we lost or agreed to settle–170 billion lira ($789,000) has been paid so far," said the official who declined to be named. He did not provide further details.

But Aslan Gunduz–a lawyer who formerly defended Turkey at the court–said the majority of cases in which Ankara was found to be at fault had dealt with complaints of torture–mystery killings and missing persons.

"Turkey agreed a friendly settlement in between eight to 10 cases and it was convicted in as many as 10 other cases," Gunduz told Reuters on Monday. He could not say when the first paymen’s were made.

Gunduz resigned from work at the Strasbourg court in October to return to academia. Another Turkish lawyer at the court quit in 1996–saying Ankara’s rights record was indefensible.

The rights court is part of the 40-nation Council of Europe–of which Turkey is a member. The council was established after World War Two to promote democracy and human rights.

Gunduz said more than 1,000 applications against Turkey were pending at the European Commission–the body that advises the court whether to start legal proceedings.

Turkey’s human rights watchdog last week said in an annual report that the Turkish government had failed to improve the human rights situation despite pledges to do so.

The European Union put Turkey’s long-standing membership bid in a cold storage last month–citing rights violations in the country among other reasons.

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