İpek v. Turkey (Application no. 25760/94)

Key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.

181. The Court reiterates that the question whether a family member of a “disappeared person” is a victim of treatment contrary to Article 3 will depend on the existence of special factors which gives the suffering of the applicant a dimension and character distinct from the emotional distress which may be regarded as inevitably caused to relatives of a victim of a serious human-rights violation. Relevant elements will include the proximity of the family tie – in that context, a certain weight will attach to the parent-child bond –, the particular circumstances of the relationship, the extent to which the family member witnessed the events in question, the involvement of the family member in the attempts to obtain information about the disappeared person and the way in which the authorities responded to those enquiries (Orhan, § 358, Çakıcı, § 98, and Timurtaş, § 95 – all cited above). The Court would further emphasise that the essence of such a violation does not so much lie in the fact of the “disappearance” of the family member but rather concerns the authorities’ reactions and attitudes to the situation when it is brought to their attention. It is especially in respect of the latter that a relative may claim directly to be a victim of the authorities’ conduct (see Çakıcı, cited above, § 98).

182. In the present case, the Court notes that the applicant is the father of the disappeared İpek brothers. The applicant witnessed the impugned events and his sons being taken away by soldiers almost nine years ago and he has never heard from them since (see paragraph 153). It further appears from the documents submitted by him that the applicant bore the weight of having to make numerous futile enquiries in order to find out what had happened to his two sons (see paragraphs 26-29). Despite his tireless endeavours to discover the fate of his sons, the applicant has never received any plausible explanation or information from the authorities as to what became of his sons following their apprehension by the soldiers. Conversely, the authorities’ reaction to the applicant’s grave concerns was limited to denials that the İpek brothers had ever been detained by the security forces (see paragraphs 38 and 45). It is to be noted that the applicant was not even informed of the outcome of the investigations pursued in respect of his complaints. Furthermore, the Court considers that the applicant’s anguish about the fate of his sons must have been exacerbated by the destruction of his family home.

183. In view of the above, the Court finds that the applicant suffered, and continues to suffer, distress and anguish as a result of the disappearance of his two sons and of his inability to find out what had happened to them. The manner in which his complaints have been dealt with by the authorities must be considered to constitute inhuman treatment contrary to Article 3.

The Court concludes therefore that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the applicant.


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