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Cypriot group to file criminal complaint with ICC against Turkey

12 July 2014

A group of Cypriots, including MEP Costas Mavrides, intend to file a criminal complaint against Turkish government officials in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Monday, just days before the 40th anniversary of the Turkish “invasion” on 20th July, ‘Cyprus Mail’ reports.

They are requesting the ICC prosecutor open an investigation into ongoing Turkish crimes on the Republic’s territory, and in particular, the “continued growth of Turkish settlements in the occupied territory”.

The communication is being filed by Mavrides, in his capacity as a member of Cypriots Against Turkish War Crimes (CATWR), an association of mainly Cypriots and refugees.

In a press release yesterday, the CATWR said this unprecedented demand for a war crimes investigation seeks to end the “impunity Turkey has enjoyed for its criminal conduct since it invaded the island on July 20, 1974.”

An investigation by the court’s prosecutor would be the first attempt to engage international criminal justice on the issue of Turkish occupation.

“The complaint demonstrates that Turkey is in blatant and systematic violation of article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Court’s Statute, which prohibits an occupying power from directly or indirectly transferring its civilians into the occupied territory,” the CATWR’s statement said.

Cyprus has been a member of the court since its establishment in 2002, but Turkey has neither signed nor ratified the Rome Statute, and thus does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC. However, the statute includes a clause allowing for cases to be tried “where the crime was committed in the territory of a State Party”.

But the ICC has jurisdiction only with respect to events which occurred after the entry into force of its statute on 1st July, 2002, thus Turkey may not be accused of crimes committed prior to this date.

Also, the court is mandated with prosecuting individuals, not groups or states. Therefore, any prosecutions face the added difficulty of identifying individuals responsible for the crime in question, and then building a case against them specifically.

CATWR is represented by Athan Tsimpedes based in Washington DC, who has initiated a lawsuit against the illegal occupation of property in the US courts.

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