Human Rights Watch slams new ombudsman
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ömeroğlu was sworn in a week after a majority of members of Parliament from the AKP voted for his appointment over two other candidates. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZHuman Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Turkish government to reconsider the appointment of Turkey’s first ombudsman, saying he continued to stand behind a court decision that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) strongly condemns as a violation of free speech.
Mehmet Nihat Ömeroğlu was sworn in by Parliament as head of the ombudsman institution on Dec. 5, 2012. Ömeroğlu was among the judges in the Court of Cassation, Turkey’s highest court, who in 2006 upheld the conviction of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink for “insulting Turkishness” under the notorious article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Over the past week he has publicly stated to the newspaper Yeni Safak that Dink’s writing “constituted a clear violation of Article 301” and to daily Radikal that “[we] made our decision on this case on the basis of our conscience.”
“The newly appointed ombudsman continues to stand behind a court decision that the ECHR strongly condemned as a violation of free speech,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior researcher for Turkey at HRW. “If the government is serious about creating an ombudsman institution that champions citizens’ rights, it should reconsider this appointment.”
Ömeroğlu was sworn in a week after a majority of members of Parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) voted for his appointment over two other candidates.
The decision to convict Dink targeted his writing on the impact on Armenians of the mass killings in 1915.