Serbia to Respect Decision by UN Committee Regarding Cevdad Ayaz’s Extradition to Turkey

Civil Rights Defenders calls upon the Serbian Government to fully respect the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN Convention Against Torture).  The UN’s Committee Against Torture in a decision on 2 August 2019 concluded that Serbia violated Article 3 of the Convention when Cevded Ayaz was unlawfully extradited to Turkey in 2017.

Ayaz, a Turkish national of Kurdish origin, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2012 for his alleged membership in the outlawed Revolutionary Party of Kurdistan. After days of torture in detention, he signed a confession, despite his claims that he had never been involved in any military operation nor used violent means for achieving his political goals. After a lengthy, unsuccessful appeal process, Ayaz fled Turkey, traveling through a number of countries on his way to Germany, before being detained on 30 November 2016 by Serbian authorities on the basis of an international arrest warrant, issued by Turkey.

It is at this stage that the Committee Against Torture has concluded that Serbia violated Article 3 of the Convention against Torture, which prohibits the extradition of persons to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. It also found that Serbia’s Ministry of Justice failed to adequately take into consideration that Ayaz’s charges in Turkey were based on a confession extorted by torture in the first place.

Despite an outcry from human rights organisations and the Committee’s own calls for interim measures for Ayaz not to be extradited, he was forcibly returned to Turkey on 25 December 2017, constituting a violation of Article 22, due to lack of cooperation with the Committee in good faith. Moreover, since then, Serbia has failed to provide any details on whether it has engaged in any form of post-extradition monitoring of Ayaz.

The Committee also concluded that “systematic extension of the state of emergency in Turkey led to serious violations of human rights against hundreds of thousands of people, including arbitrary deprivation of the right to work and freedom of movement, torture, and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and violations of the rights to freedom of association and expression”. According to this decision, Serbia’s decision was reckless and gravely endangers Ayaz’s safety and wellbeing.

Ayaz was legally represented before the Committee by Civil Rights Defenders’ partner organisation, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights. Civil Rights Defenders urges Serbia to abide by the Committee’s calls to inform of the steps taken in response to this decision, and to enact measures to ensure such violations are not repeated in the future.