UN committee warns Turkey over discrimination and human rights violations

UN committee warns Turkey over discrimination and human rights violations

Nurettin Kurt - ANKARA
UN committee warns Turkey over discrimination and human rights violations

AFP photo

A United Nations committee has voiced concern over widespread violations of human rights in Turkey, particularly focusing on racial profiling of Kurdish citizens during the campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The U.N Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of independent experts working under the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and monitoring states’ implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, published its findings on Turkey last week.

The Committee said it is “concerned about reports that members belonging to the Kurdish community are discriminated against in the labor market and the unemployment rate of Kurdish women in particular remains high.” 

“In the context of the fight against terrorism, the enforcement of anti-terrorism legislation and security-oriented policies have reportedly resulted in racial profiling of members of the Kurdish community,” it stated. 

“Such legislation has been applied to curtail the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association and led to the unwarranted arrest, detention and prosecution of Kurds. The Committee is further concerned at reports that a large number of Kurds live in the poorest and most remote provinces, often in poor economic and social conditions. Moreover, the Committee is concerned about reports of limited access to education for Kurdish children, including in their mother tongue,” the report added.

With regards to Syrian and Iraqi refugees, it noted efforts made by Turkey “to protect the human rights of the large number of Syrian and Iraqi refugees that it is hosting in its territory.”

“However, the Committee is concerned at reports that Syrian and Iraqi refugees face challenges, despite measures adopted by the State party, such as: being at risk of racial discrimination; the inadequate living conditions of Syrian refugees; a lack of work permits; reported violence against and trafficking in Syrian refugee women in camps; and insufficient access to education for some Syrian refugee children, including in their mother tongue,” the report stated.


While touching on several other issues, including the situation of Roma-origin citizens in Turkey, the committee also made a series of recommendations.

Regarding the Kurds, the Committee recommended that Ankara focus on addressing economic and political inequalities.

“[Turkey should] pursue and strengthen its measures to address inequalities faced by members of the Kurdish community in gaining access to economic, social and cultural rights on an equal footing with the rest of the population; adopt special measures to promote access by members of the Kurdish community, including women, to the labor market; ensure that its anti-terrorism legislation does not result in racial profiling or violations of the rights of freedom of expression or association or other rights protected by the Convention … intensify its efforts to combat disparities that exist between the Kurdish provinces and the rest of its territory; and improve the access of Kurdish children in schools, including by promoting teaching in their mother tongue.”

On Syrians and Iraqis, the Committee recommended that Turkey “pursue efforts to strengthen measures with a view to improving the reception conditions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.”

“In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party: effectively protect Syrian and Iraqi refugees from racial discrimination, including incitement to hatred; grant work permits, as appropriate, to refugees under the special temporary program set up by the State party; increase its efforts to ensure that all refugee children have access to education, including in their mother tongue; strengthen its fight against the trafficking in and violence against refugee women in camps; and ensure the effective application of the new Law on Foreigners and International Protection,” the report added.