Human Rights Watch says state of emergency gives Turkey ‘blank check’ to mistreat suspects
ANKARAA new report prepared by Human Rights Watch calls on the Turkish authorities to “reinstate safeguards” that have been discarded by the state of emergency decree laws, thus paving the way for torture and maltreatment of detainees in Turkish jails.
The 43-page report, “A Blank Check: Turkey’s Post-Coup Suspension of Safeguards Against Torture,” says many detainees in the months since the failed July 15 military coup attempt have experienced abuse. This abuse includes stress positions, sleep deprivation, severe beatings, sexual abuse, and rape threats.
“By removing safeguards against torture, the Turkish government effectively wrote a blank check to law enforcement agencies to torture and mistreat detainees as they like,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“The cases we have documented seem to indicate that some have done just that,” he added.
The report studied 13 cases in particular, carrying out interviews with more than 40 lawyers, human rights activists, former detainees, medical personnel, and forensic specialists. It concluded that although “the government has the right and even the obligation to protect the public, investigate crimes committed during the attempted coup,” its state of emergency does not give “carte blanche to suspend rights.”
The report said new regulations brought in with the decrees that infringe on detainees’ rights, such as the extension of the maximum length of police detention without judicial review from four to 30 days, denying detainees access to lawyers for up to five days, restricting detainees’ choice of lawyer, and restricting their right to confidential conversations with their lawyers.
“In several cases that Human Rights Watch documented, law enforcement officials and agents violated these rights to an extent exceeding even the permissive leeway granted under the emergency decrees,” it said.
Human Rights Watch said Ankara should rescind the most repressive state of emergency measures it has passed since the coup attempt, while it also gave policy recommendations to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the United Nations, and Turkey’s international partners in order to prevent such occurrences.
Government denies report
The government has denied allegations on torture and ill-treatment, demanding evidence of such allegations.
“Torture and ill-treatment are not present in Turkish prisons,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ stated on his Twitter account on Oct. 23, calling for evidence of the accusations. “The ones who claim otherwise [that there is torture in Turkish prisons] will become slanderers if they cannot prove their allegations,” he added.