By Rishikeesh Wijaya*
Uproar about purported ‘abuses’ of diplomatic immunity has not been uncommon, most recently involving the wife of the sitting Head of State of Zimbabwe, Dr. Grace Mugabe. Media reports assert that Dr. Mugabe attacked a South African model with a piece of electrical cord in a Johannesburg hotel suite. South Africa retrospectively granted her diplomatic immunity, following an assertion by the Embassy of Zimbabwe, and she eventually left the country to return to Zimbabwe with no charges pressed against her.
This was a “U-turn” from the initial decision preventing her from leaving pending the outcome of investigations. Deputy President of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa in response to questioning by South African Members of Parliament, said that immunity was granted in line with “internationally-recognised immunity regulations” but also admitted that it was “the first time [they] have utilized this type of convention”. It is unclear what convention he was referring to.
A separate incident occurred during Turkish President Erdogan’s trip to the United States America in May 2017. Members of his security detail and security guards from the Turkish embassy clashed with peaceful protestors outside the home of the Turkish ambassador in Washington DC.
Diplomatic immunity was initially claimed by Turkish authorities but it has now been reported that 19 people, including 15 identified as Turkish security officials were indicted by a grand jury in Washington DC. Several of these security officials returned to Turkey and it is unclear if there will be any legal repercussions in the United States. It is also unclear if any of those indicted remain in the US as diplomatic staff for Turkey. Continue reading
Yesterday, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case of Perinçek v Switzerland. The Grand Chamber held by majority that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Mr Doğu Perinçek, a Turkish politician, had been convicted in Switzerland for publicly expressing the view that the mass deportations and massacres suffered by the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and the following years had not amounted to genocide. At a press conference in Switzerland in May 2005, he stated that the allegations of the ‘Armenian genocide’ were an international lie. In two further public events in Switzerland he made further statements of a similar nature.
Mr Perinçek was finally convicted by the Swiss Federal Court on 12 December 2007. He lodged an application to the ECtHR to complain about his criminal conviction in June 2008. In a judgment of 17 December 2013, a Chamber of the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention. The Swiss Government requested the case to be referred to the Grand Chamber. In the Grand Chamber proceedings, third-party comments were received from the Turkish Government, the Armenian Government, and the French Government.
The Court concluded that it had not been necessary, in a democratic society, to subject Mr Perinçek to a criminal penalty in order to protect the rights of the Armenian community at stake in the case. According to an official press statement of the Court, the Grand Chamber particularly took into account the following elements: Continue reading
Today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to pay Cyprus 90 million in compensation for its 1974 invasion of the island.
In its judgement, the Court said the passing of almost 40 years did not erase Turkey’s responsibility for the ensuing conflict and continuing division of Cyprus.
It held that the Turkish government must pay 30 million in damages to relatives of those missing in military operations and 60 million for the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents” of the Karpas peninsula.
The Karpas peninsula is situated in the Northern Turkish part of the island and is still home to hundreds of Greek Cypriots.
Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus that was proclaimed there. Continue reading