TURKEY: International mobilisation over the lack of justice in Tahir ELCI’s killing case

TURKEY: International mobilisation over the lack of justice in Tahir ELCI’s killing case

As we approach the final phase of the trial for the assassination of the former President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, Tahir Elçi, on 28 November 2015, the OIAD is joining forces with the international legal community. The Observatory and 29 other organisations have issued a joint statement denouncing the apparent impunity that surrounds this assassination and the lack of a fair trial in the ongoing criminal proceedings.

For more information on the case, we invite you to read the joint statement, which provides detailed information. A summary of the case is also available below.

HOW CAN I TAKE ACTION? Join the mobilisation!

  • Help us spread the word: In addition to the joint statement, the Observatory has prepared a graphic leaflet recapitulating the Tahir Elçi’s murder trial, which is available in several languages.

Feel free to spread it freely through your media outlets to raise public awareness of this case.

Download the OIAD’s leaflet by clicking on the flags:


  • Call on Türkiye’s Ministry of Justice to ensure justice for Mr Elçi by holding those responsible for his death accountable in trials compliant with international legal standards and to ensure that any complaints of torture and ill-treatment are immediately and thoroughly investigated by an independent and impartial judicial body.

Help us multiply the petitions to get justice for lawyer Tahir Elçi by sending an individual letter. A template letter is at your disposal.

Download a template letter that you are free to use: https://protect-lawyers.org/wp-content/uploads/Template_Letter-MoJ_Tahir-Elci-2024_final.docx



Tahir Elçi was a prominent and internationally recognized human rights lawyer. At the time of his death, he was the President of the Diyarbakır Bar Association. In October 2015, he was targeted by pro-government news outlets and faced harassment and death threats after he publicly questioned the appropriateness of the renewed use of armed violence by the state for solving the ‘Kurdish issue’. He was also formally charged with ‘disseminating terrorist propaganda’.

Mr Elçi was killed while holding a press conference on 28 November 2015. An armed clash took place while two PKK militia members were fleeing the police, during which Tahir Elçi was shot dead.

Following his death, no independent effective investigation was carried out. On 20 March 2020, an indictment regarding his death was finally prepared. The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Diyarbakır sought a sentence of three to nine years imprisonment for three police officers on charges of “causing death by conscious recklessness”, and a sentence of three times aggravated life imprisonment for the militant concerned on charges of “murdering two police officers”, “attempting to murder a police officer” and “murdering Elçi by eventual intent.”

In this case 9 hearings took place, starting 21 October 2020. Many of these hearings have been monitored by international observers, including by members of the OIAD. We are concerned about several infringements of the right to a due process and a fair trial that have occurred during those hearings. We also are gravely concerned about reports of torture and other ill-treatment that were raised at the third hearing, on 14 July 2021, in connection with witness statements.

More recently, on 25 April 2024, the prosecutor submitted a motion to the 10th Assize Court of Diyarbakır demanding the acquittal of the three police officers, arguing that it was impossible to definitively determine which officer’s bullet caused the death.

The next hearing is scheduled to take place on 12 June 2024, and we understand it is likely to be the last hearing.

Demands for justice

Under international law, states have a responsibility to provide an effective remedy for human rights violations, this includes ensuring the right to access to justice. To implement this obligation, states must ensure that a prompt, impartial and effective investigation is undertaken, so that all those responsible are brought to justice in line with international standards.

We call once more on the Turkish authorities to ensure that:

  • all those responsible for the killing of Mr Elçi are brought to justice, in trial that are compliant with international law, and, if found guilty, serve sentences that reflect the gravity of the crime;
  • the court takes into account the requests made by Mr Elçi’s family concerning important evidence and witnesses;
  • judicial authorities take all necessary steps to ensure equality of arms and redress the improper bias and serious procedural breaches in this case, including by giving the Elçi family’s lawyers reasonable opportunities to be heard and make requests and by refraining from an attitude appearing hostile to the Elçi family or its lawyers;
  • the complaints of torture and ill-treatment of witnesses are examined by an independent and impartial judicial body and in case of a credible claim: the related evidence is excluded from the file; and
  • Mr Elçi’s family is provided with appropriate redress for the violations they and their loved ones have suffered in accordance with international law.