Europe's top human rights court fines Turkey for convicting UK artist on Erdoğan 'insult' charges

The ECHR has ordered Turkey to pay a British artist 2,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages for convicting him on the grounds of “insulting” Erdoğan when he was prime minister. Michael Dickinson was convicted by a Turkish court after portraying Erdoğan as a dog receiving a rosette from George Bush, in protest of the U.S. war in Iraq.

Duvar English

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Feb. 2 that Turkey had violated British artist Michael Dickinson's freedom of expression by convicting on the grounds of “insulting” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he was prime minister.

The court ordered Turkey to pay Dickinson 2,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages.

Turkey's criminal conviction against Dickinson concerned one of his collages in which he criticized Erdoğan's political support for the U.S. war in Iraq in 2006. At the relevant time, the British artist had been living in Turkey for about twenty years and was teaching in two universities in Istanbul.

Dickinson’s work portrayed Erdoğan's head glued to the body of a dog, which was held on a leash decorated with the colors of the American flag and had the following phrase pinned on its torso: “We Will not be Bush’s Dog.” He displayed it in March 2006 in a tent erected as part of the “Peace Fair” as part of a protest event in Istanbul.

Before the hearing in those proceedings on Sept. 12, 2006, Dickinson again displayed his work in the corridors of the court building, which led to his imprisonment for three days.

In 2010, the British artist was ordered to pay a judicial fine of around 3,043 euros for having displayed his collage in the corridors of the court building and in the street.

He then took his case to the ECHR which ruled that his freedom of expression had been violated in line with Article 10 of the European Court of Human Rights.