Turkey: Bergama Residents Win Golden Victory
Turkey: Bergama Residents Win Golden Victory
22nd April 2006
In a resounding vindication for the people of Bergama, the Turkish Council of State has annulled a Cabinet decree allowing cyanide to be used to extract gold in their town. And only days earlier, the European Court of Human Rights sentenced Turkey to pay a fine of 945,000 euro in a lawsuit filed by citizens living in Bergama and the surrounding villages, ruling that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect to private and family life) and Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Council cancels Cabinet decree for cyanide in gold mining
The New Anatolian, Ankara
20th April 2006
The Council of State yesterday annulled a Cabinet decree allowing cyanide to be used to extract gold in the southwestern village of Bergama, Izmir.
The council previously cancelled a positive Environmental Impact Statement (CED) report after it was submitted by the Environment and Forestry Ministry in 1998 and also yesterday cancelled the Cabinet decree which also didn't recognize the cancellation of the report.
In case petition, filed by Izmir Bar against the Cabinet decree, the bar argued the decree is defective as it opposes the implementation of court verdicts and the binding effect of the court, heavily damages the principle of separation of powers, and that it is overtly illegal in terms of authority and reason.
The council's ruling yesterday stated that both legislative and law enforcement bodies have to abide by legal decisions.
If the Prime Ministry's Office, the defendant in the trial, appeals the verdict, the case file will go to the Council of State's Administrative Trial Department.
For many years, the villages of Bergama as well as environmental circles have been fighting for the legal closure of the gold mine in Ovacik on the grounds that it's damaging lands.
Some 315 people, from Bergama and nearby villagers, filed a lawsuit against the Turkish government at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after an operation permit to the gold mine.
Last month's ECHR ruling in the villagers' favor ordered the government to pay 945,000 euros in total.
The ministry also presented another positive CED report, dated Aug. 27, 2004, on the gold-mining facility in question as there had allegedly been technological developments made.
European Court Sentences Turkey to Pay a Fine of 945,000 Euro
29th March 2006
STRASBOURG - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) sentenced Turkey to pay a fine of 945,000 euro on Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Turkish citizens living in Bergama town (of the western city of Izmir) and in the surrounding villages.
The Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as a violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the Convention.
The court awarded 2000 euro to each of 315 applicants for non-pecuniary damage or a total sum of 945,000 euro. It also awarded 5000 euro to all the applicants jointly for costs and expenses.
The case concerns the granting of permits to operate a gold-mine in Ovacik village. In 1992, the Eurogold Madencilik Company obtained the right to prospect for gold in the region. The permit was valid for 10 years and also authorized use of cyanide leaching process for gold extraction.
In 1994, on the basis of an environmental-impact report, the Ministry of the Environment gave the company a permit to operate the goldmine in Ovacik.
The applicants asked for the permit to be annulled, citing the dangers of the cyanidation process used by the operating company, the health risks and the risks of pollution of the underlying aquifers and destruction of the local ecosystem.
The application was lodged with the ECHR on November 1st, 1998.
In its verdict, the ECHR said, "the Court considered that the authorities had deprived the procedural safeguards protecting the applicants of all useful effect. Turkey had thus failed to discharge its obligation to guarantee the applicants' right to respect to their private and family life. The Court accordingly concluded unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 8. It also considered that the Turkish authorities had failed to comply effectively and within a reasonable time limit with the verdict rendered by Izmir Administrative Court on October 15th, 1997 and upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court on April 1st, 1998. The Court accordingly held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention."