Turkey’s mass surveillance case: BHRC submits third party intervention to the UN Human Rights Committee

The Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales has submitted a third party intervention in the case of Gençay Bastimar v Turkey CCPR Case No. 3592/2019. The intervention was submitted by BHRC Vice-Chair Stephen Cragg QC from Doughty Street Chambers, and BHRC member Monica Feria-Tinta. Stuart Kerr, from Karis Solicitors, assisted with the draft.

This is one of the first contentious cases against Turkey to reach the United Nations Human Rights Committee under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’).

The case relates to events unfolding in the aftermath of the 15 July 2016 attempted coup in Turkey. At least 152,000 civil servants were dismissed, and some were also arrested, for alleged connections with the coup, including 107,944 individuals named in lists attached to emergency decrees. The case, brought by a former civil servant affected by such measures, raises a number of violations under the ICCPR, and the legality of measures taken under a state of emergency.

The case also raises novel issues on mass surveillance and the right to privacy reflected in the recent Big Brother Watch and others v the United Kingdom (applications 58170/13, 62322/14 and 24960/15) before the European Court of Human Rights)namely, the legality of the bulk interception regime of communications and the regime for obtaining communications data from communication service providers.

The Third Party intervention was filed with leave by the UN Human Rights Committee.