Turkey's top court rules for rights violation in Soma mining disaster

Turkey's top court rules for rights violation in Soma mining disaster

Turkeys top court rules for rights violation in Soma mining disaster

Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that the Soma mining disaster in 2014 happened due to procedures that violated the victims' right to life.

According to the top court's ruling, published on the Official Gazette dated March 9, "negligence and errors" caused 301 deaths.

After the accident, Manisa prosecutors asked the Labor and Social Security Ministry to launch an investigation over whether there had been dereliction of duty among mining inspectors.

Probe did not go forward

The ministry did not greenlight the investigation, saying they had already faced a probe. However, in December 2014, the Council of State overruled the ministry's decision.

Following a new expert committee's appointment to investigate the disaster, then-Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik, based on the group's preliminary findings, did not authorize another probe.

An objection to this decision was dismissed by the Council of State on the grounds that "there was no direct causal link between the actions of those who were subjected to the preliminary investigation and the occurrence of the mining accident."

Later, relatives of the accident victims filed individual applications to the Constitutional Court claiming that the lack of a thorough investigation constituted a violation of the right to life.

Top court's ruling

As a result of the individual applications, the court ruled that the right to life, guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution, was violated.

In the detailed ruling, the top court said that expert report obtained by prosecutors detailed shortfalls in occupational health and safety at
the mine where the accident occurred and pointed to deficiencies.

The ruling also said the report emphasized that Labor and Social Security Ministry inspectors, who inspected the mine from 2010 to the date of the accident, were also responsible for it as they failed to reveal deficiencies or faults.

The court has sent a copy of the ruling to the Council of State to redress the violations and also to the Family, Labor and Social Services Ministry, as it is now called.

On May 13, 2014, Turkey was shocked by news of the mine disaster that had taken place in Soma.

Outrage and the shock grew when the number of miners killed in the accident hit 301, although the lives claimed could have been much higher, as a total of 780 miners were underground when the fire erupted during a shift change.

The Soma mine disaster was the worst industrial accident in the country, with unions and workers blaming poor working conditions and lack of safety regulations for laborers.