U.N. rights chief al-Hussein voices concern over ‘deteriorating human rights’ in Turkey

U.N. rights chief al-Hussein voices concern over ‘deteriorating human rights’ in Turkey

U.N. rights chief al-Hussein voices concern over ‘deteriorating human rights’ in Turkey

The outgoing U.N. High Commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein on March 7 voiced concern over the human rights situation in Turkey, offering a bleak picture of rights violations. 

“Respect for fundamental rights continues to deteriorate in Turkey,” al-Hussein said in a speech as he delivered his annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“My office has received credible reports of arbitrary mass dismissals; arbitrary closure of civil society organizations; arbitrary detention of people arrested on broad allegations of links to terrorist organizations, torture in detention; restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of movement,” he told the council.

He also mentioned that his office had received reports regarding arbitrary expropriation of private property and punishment targeting family members of individuals suspected of offences.

Al-Hussein said “given these deepening concerns,” they would be releasing a detailed report in the coming days on the human rights situation in the context of the state of emergency, including an update on the situation in the southeast.

Since the 2016 coup attempt, more than 50,000 people, including civil servants and security personnel, have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 suspended or dismissed from their jobs.

Defending the sweeping purges and massive arrests, the Ankara government argues that members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) pose a serious risk to the country’s national security. 

The FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fethullah Gülen are widely believed to have orchestrated the botched putsch, which left 250 people dead and injured nearly 2,200.

Unfair trials, displaced civilians in Iraq 

In his speech, al-Hussein also addressed rights violations in Iraq, stating that the anti-terrorism law “remains of particular concern.”

“The application of the anti-terrorism Law 13 of 2005 remains of particular concern, especially with regard to the lack of respect for due process and fair trial standards, and the large number of death sentences handed down following convictions under this law,” he said.

He urged the Iraqi government to take urgent action to ensure that due process and fair trial standards are implemented fully in domestic law – including the anti-terrorism law – and observed in practice.

“I also remain concerned about reports of violations by forces linked to the Government; forced displacement of civilians; and the continuing unknown status of several hundred men and boys who disappeared in Saqlawiyah in June 2016, after coming in contact with armed groups,” al-Hussein said.

He called on the Iraqi government to fully investigate these incidents, publish the findings and hold those responsible to account.

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