Europe court slams Turkey for barring blind girl from music school

STRASBOURG, France (AFP) - The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday (Feb 23) condemned Turkey for refusing a blind girl admission to Istanbul's National Music Academy, ordering Ankara to pay her 10,000 euros (S$15,500) in damages.

The girl, who was born in 1989, applied to the school in 2004 and although she was "completely qualified for admission", it refused to enrol her "based solely on the fact that she was blind".

The teenager, who plays the "baglama" which is a type of lute, had passed all of the entrance exams, but the school denied her entry in a clear case of "discrimination on the grounds of disability".

Although she had presented a medical certificate from a hospital concluding that she could attend lessons in the sections of the music academy where eyesight was not required, it was rejected by the academy, the court said.

"By refusing to enrol (her) without considering the possibility of accommodating her disability, the national authorities had prevented her, without any objective and reasonable justification, from benefiting from a musical education," in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, the ruling said.

Turkey has three months to ask for a review of the case, but the European court is not obliged to grant it.