Background Briefing


Nuriye Kesbir (Update)29

On September 15, 2006, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal decision preventing the extradition of a Kurdish woman wanted in Turkey. Nuriye Kesbir, an official of the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK, now known as Kongra-Gel) then resident in the Netherlands, was subject to an extradition warrant from Turkey alleging that she had committed war crimes as a PKK military operative during the time she fought in the civil war in Turkey’s southeast. In May 2004 a Dutch district court determined that although her fears of torture and unfair trial in Turkey were not completely unfounded, there were insufficient grounds to halt the extradition. The court gave exclusive authority to the government to either grant or reject the extradition request, but advised the Dutch minister of justice to seek enhanced diplomatic assurances against torture and unfair trial from Turkey.

The Dutch Court of Appeal ruled on January 20, 2005, against Kesbir’s extradition, concluding that diplomatic assurances could not guarantee that she would not be tortured or ill-treated upon return to Turkey. On September 15, 2006, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal barring Kesbir’s extradition to Turkey. The Supreme Court issued a statement, concluding that “an extradition could result in a breach of European human rights laws” since Kesbir “runs a real risk of being tortured or suffering inhumane or humiliating treatment” if returned to Turkey.30  The Supreme Court accepted the Court of Appeal’s reasoning that the diplomatic assurances against torture and ill-treatment offered by Turkey were insufficient to prevent such abuse were Kesbir to be returned. 

29 Human Rights Watch, Still at Risk, pp. 72-76.

30 “Dutch Court Blocks Extradition of PKK Leader,” Reuters News, September 15, 2006.