18 Mar 2020
IRCT calls on Turkish court to reject unfounded allegations against Dr. Serdar Küni

Update: Due to the pandemic corona virus, Mr. Küni's hearing has been postponed to June 1 2020. Thank you to all IRCT members who have come together to put pressure on Turkey. We will keep you updated on developments.

On 1 June 2020, the Şırnak 2nd Heavy Penal Court will hold its final hearing before deciding on criminal charges against Dr. Serdar Küni, the Cizre representative of IRCT member, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT). Today, the IRCT calls for the unfounded charges against Dr. Küni, which carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, to be rejected and for the State to put an end to harassment and reprisals against health professionals and human rights defenders in Turkey.

IRCT calls on Turkish court to reject unfounded allegations against Dr. Serdar Küni

Dr. Serdar Küni

IRCT has closely followed Dr. Küni’s case since his arrest in 2016, and we remain deeply concerned with the continuous denial of fundamental fair trial standards. Our concerns include the use of unanimous witnesses, hearsay evidence and witness statements that are tainted by credible allegations that they were obtained under torture.

In our letter addressed directly to the court and relevant Turkish authorities, the IRCT calls for:

  1. Full access to fair trial rights including exclusion of anonymous, hearsay and torture tainted evidence.
  2. Prompt and independent investigation into allegations that witnesses were tortured to sign incriminating statements against Dr. Küni.
  3. Respect and fulfilment of Turkey’s obligation to protect the right to health, medical neutrality, and freedom of association and expression.

The case against Dr. Küni takes places in a context of widespread harassment and reprisals against health professionals and human rights defenders in Turkey and it is essential that the unfounded charges against Dr. Küni are addressed as part of a broader responses to this deteriorating situation. “The IRCT has observed and brought public attention to trials against health professionals and human rights defenders in Turkey since the early 1990’s and we will continue to stand with our colleagues as long as the Government tries to criminalise globally agreed fundamental human rights”, said Lisa Henry, Secretary General of the IRCT.

Background

Dr. Küni was arrested and detained on October 19, 2016 on charges that he provided medical treatment to alleged members of Kurdish armed groups while they occupied parts of the city in January and February 2016.

Dr. Küni, who is originally from Cizre, has worked as a physician in Cizre since 2005 with the Biseng Public Health Centre, and became the representative of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey’s center in Cizre in October 2015. On October 19, 2016, he was detained by the Cizre Magistrate Judge and subsequently charged with being a member of an armed organization, based on allegations that he provided medical treatment to members of armed organizations during the unrest in Cizre.

On April 24, 2017, Dr Küni was sentenced to 4 years 2 months imprisonment but this decision was later reversed by the Gaziantep Regional High Court. The proceedings were re-launched on April 25, 2018 in S?rnak and at the 6th hearing of the case on February 19, 2020, the Prosecutor demanded that Dr Küni should be sentenced to imprisonment between seven and a half and fifteenth years.

 Read the full letter here.

“The IRCT has observed and brought public attention to trials against health professionals and human rights defenders in Turkey since the early 1990’s and we will continue to stand with our colleagues as long as the Government tries to criminalise globally agreed fundamental human rights.”

-Lisa Henry, Secretary General

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