on trial with terror charges with allegations of participating in a memorial
march following their friend's murder by police in Cizre have been released
from prison today.
children were taken under custody during the event on February 16, 2008 and
those who exceeded age 18 since are still under arrest, lawyer Tahir Elçi told
came too late," said Elçi, noting that several others will be in court on
March 19th. "Despite this positive development, as long as
Article 220/6 of the Penal Code –which enables courts to accuse children with
terror charges, as adults- and the Supreme court of Appeals judgments stays in
place, children would continue to be threatened with harsh penalties."
The case is
postponed to June 9th.
trial seen this morning in Diyarbakır, five other children who were accused of
similar charges for participating in a protest against PM Erdoğan's visit on
October 20th are also released. Lawyer Canan Atabay told that there
were six children on trial with this case.
all around Turkey gathered together in December, demanding immediate release of
all children in prisons and an end to trials of children with terror charges.
Joined as the Initiative of Justice for Children, more than 40 NGOs recently
sent letters to the president, the PM as well as other authorities to voice
rulings seem in par with their demands but it's unclear if this represents a
change of attitude in courts that would affect some 250 other children kept in
jail. For example, a Diyarbakır court
ruled for keeping four children in prison during a hearing on march 12th.
On the same day, an Adana court condemned two children to a total of 4 years
and 8 months in prison. During a recent visit to the parliament by rights
activists, ruling Justice and Development Party officials as well as main
opposition Republican People's Party officials promised to bring those demand
to agenda. Responding a motion by DTP MP Selahattin Demirtas, Minister of
Justice Mehmet Ali Sahin revealed that 724 children have been accused by terror
charges in 2006 and 2007, as defined at the Counter Terrorism Law.
those were tried in Diyarbakır courts, focus of Kurdish unrest in Southeastern
children were tried with the Article 220 of the Penal Code during the same
period, which penalizes "organizing to commit crime." Yet another 413
children were accused of "membership to armed organizations", as
defined in Article 314 of the Penal Code.
the government had introduced a change in the Counter Terror Law, which enabled
courts to try children aged between 15 and 18 as adults. In the same year, the
Court of Cassation made a leading ruling, deeming participation in an protest
as legal proof for "membership to the organization" calling for the
protest. As a result, hundreds of children are tried with membership to the
PKK, while activists condemn the situation as being against international