Six Turkish citizens denied the right to fair trial by Kosovo authorities

On Thursday, 29 March 2018, six Turkish citizens were arbitrary arrested by the Kosovo Police and Intelligence Agency, and deported to Turkey. Civil Rights Defenders calls on the Parliament of Kosovo to conduct an immediate investigation into the legality of the actions. Furthermore, to inform about the wellbeing of the arrested persons whose whereabouts remain unknown.  

The arrest and deportation of a medical doctor from Turkey visiting Kosovo and five Turkish nationals employed at the Mehmet Akif college in Pristina, is a violation against fundamental human rights principles, enshrined in the European Convention for Human Rights. The Turkish citizens were denied the right to a fair trial, legal aid and contact with their families.

“There are also rightful fears and risks that the deported persons will be subject to torture and ill-treatment,” says Goran Miletic, Director for Europe, Civil Rights Defenders.  

The entire operation was done without my knowledge, said Ramush Haradinaj, Prime Minister of Kosovo, in a public statement following the arrest and deportations of the Turkish citizens. Haradinaj dismissed the Minister for Internal Affairs and the head of Kosovo Intelligence Agency, KIA, for carrying out the deportations without his permission. 

Hasim Thaçi, the president of Kosovo, stated that he had been informed by the Intelligence Agency about the revoking of residence permits, due to the arrested persons alleged links to schools financed by the Gülen movement, accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Civil Rights Defenders calls for Kosovo Parliament to respect the non-refoulment obligation under international law and support with all means the Commission established on 4 April 2018 to investigate and determine political responsibility of the persons who approved, ordered and executed the arrests and deportations of the six Turkish citizens.