Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
Bild vergrößern German Embassy / DT (© German Embassy / DT) Dear Ambassador Fries,
Dear Professor Altiparmak,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to bestow today together with you, Ambassador Fries, the German-French Award for Human Rights and the Rule of Law upon Prof. Kerem Altiparmak.
On 7 April 2016 Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault in their capacity as Foreign Ministers formally introduced this award. It is to be bestowed every year upon a limited number and carefully selected Human Rights defender worldwide. The award is meant to honor the high commitment of the laureates for the protection of human rights and above all to support their important work in the future.
The reasons which make this award very special and dear to us are twofold. First, it serves as a symbol of the high priority which both our countries attribute to the international protection of human rights and the existence of a dynamic civil society. Second, it demonstrates the strong spirit of German-Franco cooperation that lies at the heart of the European Union.
When our two Embassies were discussing the criteria by which we should identify our respective candidate, we agreed on two points:
First, our candidate should be a person deeply committed to the non-violent struggle, for and to uphold and protect human rights and to the rule of law.
Moreover, his or her work should embody the values that our countries and Turkey share. For us the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights represent the heart and soul of these values.
After agreeing on these criteria, Prof. Kerem Altiparmak was a natural choice for both of us.
Dear Prof. Altiparmak,
Being an alumnus of Ankara University’s law school, you also hold a certificate in Basic Human Rights from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg and a PhD in Human Rights Law from the University of Leeds.
You are a renowned lecturer on Human Rights Law at the University of Ankara and you chaired the University’s Human Rights Centre from 2010 until its closure in December 2016.
Furthermore, in your professional capacity as a lawyer and solicitor, you support the work of several national NGOs like the Human Rights Joint Platform and the Human Rights Foundation in numerous human rights projects. These activities include a very successful project on monitoring the implementation of the European Court of Human Right’s rulings in Turkey.
I would also like to highlight, that you are a member of a group of lawyers who provide pro bono legal assistance in freedom of expression cases. You support these persons within the Turkish judicial system as well as at European Court of Human Rights.
In the course of your highly commendable and challenging work, you have become one of the leading experts in Turkey on the European Convention of Human Rights and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.
One out of the 43 freedom of expression cases you personally brought to the Constitutional Court was the famous “Twitter Ban Case” in 2014. This case concerned the ban of Twitter in Turkey. It was covered intensively by national and international media.
Also due to your input this case ended successfully with the Constitutional Court lifting the ban.
By these examples it becomes apparent that you, Prof. Altiparmak, are an ideal representative of the vibrant civil society in Turkey.
Moreover, your daily work contributes significantly to the implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights in Turkey and to further the development of the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence. Like any court the European Court of Human Rights couldn’t work without the efforts of dedicated and skilled solicitors like you.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before handing over to my friend and colleague Ambassador Fries let me finish by emphasizing one point:
We honor the individual contribution by Prof. Altiparmak to the protection of human rights in Turkey today. But I want to emphasize, it is also the Turkish civil society in general that we want to support and honor by this award.
You all deserve our recognition and respect for your work. In my view this vibrant civil society and the many courageous citizens who contribute so much to the social and political development of Turkey are the most reliable and firm anchors of Turkey in Europe. They are also its strongest compass for the future.