HRW hopeful on progress in 1990’s cases

HRW hopeful on progress in 1990’s cases

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed optimism about the Turkish government’s determination to investigate those responsible for committing abuses during in southeastern Anatolia in the 1990s, with the group’s senior Turkey researcher hailing the “openness of discussions” with the Justice Ministry.

“We shared our findings with Justice Ministry officials. We had constructive meetings and detailed discussions with the ministry. We appreciate the openness of discussions,” HRW Turkey researcher Emma Sinclair-Webb told the Hürriyet Daily News in a telephone interview following the meeting.

The leading New York-based human rights organization released a report on Sept. 3 entitled “Time for Justice: Ending Impunity for Killings and Disappearances in 1990s Turkey,” in which the ongoing trial of retired Col. Cemal Temizöz and six others for the alleged murder and disappearance of 20 men and boys between 1993 and 1995 was closely examined.

In its report, authored by Sinclair-Webb, HRW calls on the government to exert efforts to prevent the invocation of the statute of limitations – which is 20 years for crimes committed before 2005 – as well the intimidation of witnesses, while also dealing with other obstacles to the prosecution of public officials for killings, disappearances, and torture. The report also called on the Turkish Parliament to establish an independent parliamentary truth commission to investigate disappearances, killings and other serious human rights violations by suspected state perpetrators. 

During the meeting, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin reiterated that the government was planning to lift the statute limitations for serious human rights violations as part of its fourth judicial package, which is expected to come to the parliamentary agenda this fall, Sinclair-Webb said. 

The HRW official also expressed her anticipation that the government would take positive steps to foster human rights. 

“We have expectations of strong and bold steps over impunity and serious human rights violations.

We have strong expectations that those issues will be addressed. We demand justice for victims [of abuses by public officials] and victims of ... terrorist attacks, too,” she said.