- Routine extensions of the state of emergency in Turkey have led to profound human rights violations
- This is the verdict of the United Nation Human Rights office
- The UN says the situation have long-lasting implications on the institutional and socio-economic fabric of Turkey
The United Nation Human Rights office, has said that routine extensions of the state of emergency in Turkey have led to profound human rights violations against hundreds of thousands of people.
The UN office expressed concerns about arbitrary deprivation of the right to work and to freedom of movement, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions and infringements of the rights to freedom of association and expression.
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In a report released, which covers the period between January 1 and December 31 2017, the UN office warned that the state of emergency has facilitated the deterioration of the human rights situation and the erosion of the rule of law in Turkey, and may “have long-lasting implications on the institutional and socio-economic fabric of Turkey.”
While the UN Human Rights Office recognised the complex challenges Turkey has faced in addressing the July 15 2016 attempted coup and a number of terrorist attacks, the report is, “the sheer number, frequency and lack of connection of several [emergency] decrees to any national threat seem to point to the use of emergency powers to stifle any form of criticism or dissent vis-à-vis the government.
“The numbers are just staggering: nearly 160,000 people arrested during an 18-month state of emergency; 152,000 civil servants dismissed, many totally arbitrarily; teachers, judges and lawyers dismissed or prosecuted; journalists arrested, media outlets shut down and websites blocked - clearly the successive states of emergency declared in Turkey have been used to severely and arbitrarily curtail the human rights of a very large number of people,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.
“One of the most alarming findings of the report, is how Turkish authorities reportedly detained some 100 women who were pregnant or had just given birth, mostly on the grounds that they were ‘associates’ of their husbands, who are suspected of being connected to terrorist organizations.
“Some were detained with their children and others violently separated from them. This is simply outrageous, utterly cruel, and surely cannot have anything whatsoever to do with making the country safer,” he added.
The report cited the April 2017 referendum that extended the president’s executive powers into both the legislature and the judiciary as seriously problematic, resulting in interference with the work of the judiciary and curtailment of parliamentary oversight over the executive branch.
Recall that twenty-two emergency decrees were promulgated by the end of 2017 (and two more since the cut-off date of the report), with many regulating matters unrelated to the state of emergency and used to limit various legitimate activities by civil society actors. The decrees also foster impunity, affording immunity to administrative authorities acting within the framework of the decrees, the report notes.
The report also documented the use of torture and ill-treatment in custody, including severe beatings, threats of sexual assault and actual sexual assault, electric shocks and waterboarding by police, gendarmerie, military police and security forces.
“Since the stated purpose of the emergency regime was to restore the normal functioning of the democratic institutions, it is unclear how measures such as the eviction of families of civil servants from publicly-owned housing may contribute to this goal,” the report states.
The report also stated that about 300 journalists have been arrested on the grounds that their publications contained “apologist sentiments regarding terrorism” or other “verbal act offences” or for “membership” in terrorist organisations.
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