ECHR: Zana v. Turkey
13 Feb 2008
The applicant was convicted and imprisoned for having defended a serious crime and endangering public safety for stating that he supported an illegal liberation movement.
25 November 1997, Application No. 18954/91 (European Court of Human Rights)
|Theme:||Other content restrictions|
|Sub-issue:||National security; Public order|
|Jurisdiction:||No violation of freedom of expression (Article 10 ECHR); twelve votes to eight|
|Decision:||European Court of Human Rights: Turkey|
The applicant was the former mayor of Diyarbakir, a large and important city in Southeastern Turkey. While serving a prison sentence in a military prison, he was interviewed by journalists working for a large national newspaper. He stated that he supported the national liberation movement of the Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK). However, he stated he was "not in favour of massacres. Anyone can make mistakes and the PKK kill women and children by mistake." The applicant was convicted by the National Security Court for having defended an act punishable by law as a serious crime and endangering public safety and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment.
National Security / Public order
The applicant's conviction amounted to an interference with his exercise of his freedom of expression; it as prescribed by law and pursued a legitimate aim, namely the maintenance of national security and public safety.
Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and is, subject to paragraph 2 of Article 10, applicable to ideas and information which offend shock or disturb. The necessity of an interference must meet a pressing social need. The interference must be proportionate to the aim pursued and the reasons adduce by the State must be relevant and sufficient.
The words spoken by the applicant to the press were both contradictory and ambiguous. It had to be examined in context, namely the fact that it coincided with murderous attacks carried out by the PKK on civilians in Southeastern Turkey, where there was extreme tension at the time. Support given to the PKK national liberation movement by the former mayor of Diyarbakir in an interview by a major national daily newspaper had to be regarded as likely to exacerbate an already explosive situation in the region. The penalty imposed on the applicant could reasonably be regarded as answering a pressing social need and the reasons given by the national authorities were relevant and sufficient. The interference was proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.
Download the full text here
Find more on
Receive immediate or weekly updates on the right to freedom of expressionSubscribe
Help us support lorem sit ipsum dolor amet
Your donation dummy text about what their money does.Donate