European body on torture makes recommendations to Turkey in latest report

European body on torture makes recommendations to Turkey in latest report

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published on Jan. 15 the report on its most recent visit to Turkey, carried out on June 9-21, 2013.

The CPT’s delegation's visit to the country coincided with the massive anti-government Gezi Park protests, which started in May 2013 in Istanbul’s central Taksim neighborhood.

Although the majority of people who the CPT delegation met in Ankara and Istanbul said they had been treated in a correct manner while in police/gendarmerie custody, the situation was not the same in the prisons in southeastern Turkey, according to the report.

“In Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa, the delegation received a number of allegations from detained people [including juveniles] of recent physical ill-treatment by police officers. Most of these allegations concerned excessive use of force at the time of apprehension or slaps, punches or kicks during police questioning,” read the report.

In contrast, hardly any allegations of this nature were received in the western province of İzmir, it added.

The CPT recommended that a formal statement from the relevant authorities should be delivered to all law enforcement officials in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa, reminding them that they should respect the rights of people in their custody and that the ill-treatment of such people will receive severe sanctions.

In both Ankara and Istanbul, the delegation received a number of allegations from detained demonstrators that they had been subjected to excessive use of force at the moment of their apprehension, such as kicks, punches and blows with sticks or batons – including to the head or in the face – after having been taken into custody. One person was allegedly even sprayed with tear gas in his face while handcuffed. In addition, a number of people claimed that they were also beaten while being taken to the police van and, in some cases, also during transportation.

Moreover, many people, including almost all female detainees, were severely verbally abused during their apprehension, according to the committee's report.

However, virtually all of the detained demonstrators interviewed by the delegation indicated that they were treated correctly by police officers during their stay in the relevant police headquarters.

The CPT recommended that a firm message be delivered to all law enforcement officials throughout Turkey who are involved in crowd control operations, reminding them that all forms of ill-treatment, including verbal abuse, of people deprived of their liberty are not acceptable and will be punished accordingly.

“It should be made clear to law enforcement officials that no more force than is strictly necessary is to be used when carrying out an apprehension and that, once apprehended and brought under control, there can be no justification for striking them,” it added.

The CPT also stated that it would like to receive further information on the new detention facilities for foreign nationals in Ankara and an indication of when the existing detention facilities will be withdrawn from service. For as long as the current facilities remain in service, the committee recommends that detained people be offered access to open air for at least one hour every day.