Turkey postpones trip by UN torture expert
The U.N.’s torture expert on Sept. 21 criticized Turkey’s decision to postpone his visit, saying it sent “the wrong message,” amid a crackdown following the July 15 failed coup attempt.
The U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, was due to visit Turkey from Oct.10 to 14, but Ankara pushed the trip back to “November or December,” according to a statement from Mendez’s office.
“While I understand that the developments in Turkey during the last months demand the government’s fullest attention, I believe that postponing my visit at this late stage sends the wrong message,” he said in the statement.
“In light of the thousands of arrests made following the failed coup of July 15, and the allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many detention centres throughout the country, my visit is of utmost importance,” he added.
Mendez’s mandate ends on Oct. 31, but he urged Ankara to give his successor “unfettered access” to any areas where people were being detained.
U.N. rights office spokesman Jon Izagirre told AFP that Turkey said it was “too busy to dedicate time to the visit.”
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s director for Europe, commented on the postponement of the visit, saying that “it is a setback.”
“The postponement [of] this visit is a setback for those concerned about human rights in Turkey. Following the failed coup, credible evidence emerged that detainees were being subjected to beatings and torture in official and unofficial detention centres. There have also been allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many places of detention across the country,” he said.
“Whilst official statements that Turkey has a policy of zero tolerance… toward torture are welcome, these need to be backed up with greater transparency. Despite pledges by the Turkish authorities to allow independent international monitors to visit all detainees in the places they are being held, so far only one body - the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [CPT] - has been granted such access,” Dalhuisen also said.
Rights group Amnesty International has said it had “credible evidence” of the abuse and torture of people detained in sweeping post-coup arrests, something Ankara has denied.
“The authorities must bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses during the coup attempt. But this must be done in a manner that respects the right to fair trial, the prohibition of torture and other human rights. Considering that Juan E. Mendez will step down from the mandate at the end of October, we trust that new dates for the visit can be speedily agreed [upon] with his successor,” the statement released from Amnesty International added.