Turkey’s Human Rights Council ‘too partisan’

Turkey’s Human Rights Council ‘too partisan’

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Prominent human rights experts and activists have criticized the selection method of names appointed for the Turkey Human Rights Council as “too partisan and unbalanced.”

“It is unacceptable to create a human rights council by appointment of members by the government, especially when some of the people who were appointed have nothing to do with the field of human rights. The fact is that people who have certain beliefs and political views have been appointed to this council,” Human Rights Foundation of Turkey head Şebnem Korur Fincancı told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview.

Following a resolution that was approved in June 2012, nine people were appointed to the newly created Human Rights Council last month, of whom seven were chosen by the Cabinet and two were chosen by President Abdullah Gül.

The Council included names such as former Chairman of the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) Ömer Vardan, Professor Serap Yazıcı, Professor Levent Korkut, Lawyer Fatma Benli, Mazlum-Der member Yılmaz Ensaroğlu, and former rapporteur of the Constitutional Court Hikmet Tülen.

“The selection of the council members was totally partisan and against the Paris principles [accepted in 1993 in the U.N. General Assembly] which say that the members of such human rights councils should be independent,” Fincancı said.

‘Balances were not kept’

“There are really some good names who work on human rights issues. For instance, Serap Yazıcı and Levent Korkut are good names for the council. But there are also irrelevant names who do not have any experience whatsoever in the field of human rights who are being appointed to the council. Some important balances have not been kept, such as having people from different religious or sectarian groups,” Human Rights Association Chairman Öztürk Türkdoğan also told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Türkdoğan said that if representatives from the business world are selected as members of the Human Rights Council, representatives from the trade unions shoud also be selected.

Serap Yazıcı has worked as a professor at Bilgi University since 1998 and is known for her work in the human rights field. She was one of the members of the Science Committee formed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to work on preparing a civilian constitution.

Levent Korkut has worked as the Turkey Representative at Amnesty International for many years. He currently gives classes related to human rights at Hacettepe University.