UN official speaks out over exclusion of Turkish judge

The President of the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) has spoken out after the UN Secretary-General renewed the terms of office of all of the judges on the court’s roster apart from Turkish judge Aydın Sefa Akay, Marko Milanovic wrote for the blog of the European Journal of International Law.

Theodor Meron expressed his regret and “respectful disagreement with, the decision not to reappoint my valued and esteemed colleague, Judge Akay, and my grave concerns about the far-reaching consequences this decision will have for our institution and for international criminal justice more generally,” Milanovic said.

Akay was arrested in September 2016 by Turkish authorities and has been detained ever since, Meron’s statement said, and was convicted on charges of being a member of a terrorist organisation in June 2017.

“The arrest of Judge Akay, his detention and the legal proceedings against him are inconsistent with the assertion of his diplomatic immunity by the United Nations in October 2016, as well as the binding judicial order by the Mechanism to the Government of Turkey issued in January 2017,” the statement continued.

“The acquiescence to the position advanced by the Government of Turkey represents a de facto acceptance of a State’s actions undertaken in contravention of the diplomatic immunity asserted by the United Nations, a dangerous precedent to set.”