The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has questioned the Azerbaijani government over the deportation of Turkish national Taci Şentürk at the request of the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his alleged links to the Gülen movement in 2017.
Taci Şentürk, a Turkish teacher who was working in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, had been taken by Azeri police to an unknown place after UN officials stopped his deportation to Turkey at Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport on June 7, his wife Fatma Şentürk said. It was later learned that Taci Şentürk was illegally detained and deported from Azerbaijan to Turkey.
The ECtHR has summarised the case of Taci Şentürk as follows:
The applicant, Mr Taci Shenturk, is a Turkish national who was born in 1976 and at the time of the events lived in Azerbaijan. He is represented before the Court by Ms A. Nasirli and Mr S. Rahimli.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On an unspecified date the applicant moved to Azerbaijan where he worked in private schools affiliated to the Gülen movement.
He was granted a temporary residence permit which was regularly extended. On 9 March 2017 his temporary residence permit was extended de novo until 9 September 2017.
On 3 June 2017 the Turkish authorities informed Azerbaijani counterparts via Interpol that the applicant’s passport had been cancelled and therefore requested the Azerbaijani authorities to arrest and deport the applicant to Turkey.
At about 2.00 p.m. on 7 June 2017 the applicant was arrested and brought to the temporary detention facility of the Organised Crime Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (“the OCD”) where he was informed that he would be taken to Baku International Airport and deported to Turkey at 8.30 p.m. on the same day. The applicant informed officers of the OCD about his intention to request asylum in Azerbaijan on the ground of his persecution in Turkey and repeatedly asked the officers not to deport him. However, his demands were ignored.
While in detention, the applicant informed his wife and friends about his arrest and imminent removal. His friends retained a lawyer who applied on the applicant’s behalf for asylum to the UNHCR Baku Office, the State Migration Service (“the SMS”), the OCD and to the Office for Affairs of Refugees and Displaced Persons, asking to grant the applicant refuges status due the risk of him being subjected to persecution and ill-treatment in Turkey.
On the same date the UNHCR Baku Office issued a temporary protection letter with respect to the applicant, his wife and their four children, valid until 7 September 2017, on the basis of the fact that they were registered with the UNHCR and their asylum request was under consideration by the national authorities.
At 8.30 p.m. on the same day the applicant’s wife, children and friends arrived at the airport, apparently in the attempt to prevent the applicant’s deportation. The applicant was able to speak to his family members and friends for five minutes. Afterwards, he was led away by the OCD officers to proceed with boarding the plane for the scheduled flight. At the customs and border control, the applicant informed the officer on duty from the State Border Service that he was seeking asylum in Azerbaijan. The officer in question called a representative from the SMS and the applicant reiterated his request. However, according to the applicant the representative of the SMS ignored his request.
At some point, while the applicant was already in the boarding area, a staff member of the UNHCR in Azerbaijan arrived at the airport and intervened with a view to preventing the applicant’s removal. As a result, the applicant was not put on the plane and was taken back to the detention facility of the OCD.
At about 11.00 p.m. on the same day, the applicant’s lawyer came to the detention facility to meet the applicant, but he was not allowed to do so.
On 8 June 2017 the applicant’s lawyer applied to the SMS with a written request to grant the applicant refugee status. There is no information about the outcome of this request.
On the same date, without informing the UNHCR Baku office and the applicant’s family, the OCD officers took the applicant again to Baku International Airport and put him on a plane to Ankara. Upon arrival to Ankara, the applicant was arrested by the Turkish police and sent to Konya where he was remanded in custody in connection with criminal investigation into his alleged involvement in the Gülenist Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ/PDY).
Meanwhile, the applicant’s wife, who was not aware at the time about the applicant’s removal, applied to various authorities concerning his whereabouts.
On 23 June 2017 the State Border Service informed the applicant’s wife that her husband had been deported to Turkey on 8 June 2017.
On 6 July 2017 the OCD also informed the applicant’s wife that her husband “left Azerbaijan” for Turkey on 8 June 2017 due to the fact that the Turkish authorities issued an arrest warrant against the applicant because he was suspected of being involved in FETÖ/PDY.
The applicant complains under Article 3 that his forcible removal to Turkey exposed him to a real risk of ill-treatment in that country.
The applicant complains under Article 5 that his detention was unlawful.
The applicant complains that his expulsion to Turkey was in breach of the requirements of Article 1 of Protocol No. 7 to the Convention.
Relying on Article 13 of the Convention in conjunction with Articles 3 and 5 the applicant complains that he had no effective remedy by which he could have challenged the lawfulness of his detention and his expulsion on the grounds that he would risk being subjected to torture or ill-treatment if removed.
QUESTIONS TO THE PARTIES
1. In the light of the applicant’s claims and the available information, did the applicant’s forcible removal to Turkey expose him to a real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention?
2. Was the applicant deprived of his liberty in breach of Article 5 § 1 (f) of the Convention? In particular, has the applicant’s detention from 7 to 8 June 2017 been “in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law” and based on any judicial or administrative decision?
3. Did the applicant have at his disposal an effective procedure by which he could challenge the lawfulness of his detention pending deportation, as required by Article 5 § 4 of the Convention?
4. Did the applicant have an arguable claim under Article 3 of the Convention for the purposes of his complaint under Article 13 of the Convention? If so, did the applicant have at his disposal an effective domestic remedy, as required by Article 13 of the Convention, by which he could have challenged his deportation on the grounds that he would risk being subjected to torture or ill-treatment if deported? If yes, did such a remedy provide guarantees of accessibility, quality, speed and suspensive effect?
The Government are invited to refer to specific provisions of domestic law and to provide relevant examples from the case-law of the domestic courts in this respect.
5. Was the applicant’s deportation to Turkey in compliance with the requirements of Article 1 of Protocol No. 7 to the Convention?
The Government are requested to provide all documents concerning the applicant’s detention, deportation and his asylum application.