Turkey’s new security bill to lead to more arbitrary police action: HRW

Turkey’s new security bill to lead to more arbitrary police action: HRW

Turkey’s new security bill to lead to more arbitrary police action: HRW

A woman lies on the ground while Turkish riot police use their shields to push back protestors demonstrating against attacks launched by the ISIL insurgents targeting the Syrian town of Kobane, Dec. 1, in Istanbul. AFP Photo / Ozan Köse

Human Rights Watch has expressed concerns that Turkey’s new security bill adopted by Parliament last week dangerously increased the powers of the national police force and could undermine human rights.

The new bill allows the police to take people who are considered to be a “serious threat to public order” into 24-hour custody without evidence, amid criticism that the measure will make police actions even more arbitrary than before.

“The government has already pushed problematic new police measures through Parliament, and now it wants to give itself even greater security powers,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch, calling on Parliament to reconsider the new measures introduced by the bill.

“Parliament should put the brakes on to ensure that this bill protects human rights as well as public safety,” Sinclair-Webb added.

The bill was brought to Parliament after a wave of protests in October over the assault of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, particularly in southeastern Turkey, where demonstrators accused the government of turning a blind eye to the jihadist advance.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has defended the bill, saying it aimed to end the “ambiguity” over the use of “weapons of violence” in demonstrations.

Davutoğlu also dismissed claims that the competences given to the police were too great, stressing that the measures would be “in line with EU standards and based on universal standards.”

However, Human Rights Watch argues that the new measures will pave the way for “more abusive police action.”

“The government’s legitimate concern about violent protests should not be a blank check for police powers,” Sinclair-Webb said.

Click here to read the whole Human Rights Watch statement.