After sending a mission to Turkey, the FIDH urges Turkish authorities to take further steps to eradicate torture.

09/01/2003
Urgent Appeal
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Between December 25, 2002 and January 6, 2003, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) sent a fact finding mission to Turkey in order to collect first-hand information to better assess the practice of torture in the country and examine the implementation of the recent legal reforms recently adopted to fulfil criteria for joining the European Union.

The FIDH delegation, composed of Ms Elsa Le Pennec, researcher and Ms Catherine Teule, General Secretary of the French league for human rights, met with a wide range of individuals organisations - both governmental (the vice-secretary of the Ministry of Interior, the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission) and non-governmental (in particular, the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights - TIHV, the Human Rights Association-IHD) - from different parts of the country (Ankara-Diyarbakir-Izmir-Istanbul).
The practice of torture and ill treatment by police officers and military staff, during arrest and police custody, far from decreasing, remains widespread and systematic. FIDH is particularly concerned by the reported increasing use of more sophisticated methods of torture, detectable only by advanced forensic investigation methods, which are rarely available. Both political and criminal offenders, women, men and juveniles are victims of torture in the country. The situation of ethnic minorities, in particular Roma people and Kurds, is of particular concern.
The FIDH has received numerous accounts of persons being illegally detained and tortured by police and soldiers in South East Turkey. Although the state of emergency in the region was lifted on November 30, 2002, the delegation remains seriously concerned by reported cases of arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention and cases of torture in police custody.
Detention centres in the country continue to be dangerously isolated from the outside world. Human rights lawyers are banned from seeing their clients and face harassment including threats from prison staff, systematic and humiliating body searches in the F-type and E-type prison (isolation cells system), confiscation of legal files, in full violation of the Turkish Code of criminal Procedure (CUMUK). Torture will continue unless the lawyers’ right to have access to their clients is guaranteed for all detainees and urgently implemented in practice.
Turkish authorities intimidate, persecute and initiate criminal cases against human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, doctors and others who voice criticism of the Government’s handling of the prison crisis, condemn the practice of torture and denounce the State policy allowing for a continuing climate of impunity in the country.
Recent legal changes adopted by Turkey (February and August 2002) may constitute a first step towards the establishment of the Rule of law in light of the European standards and the international conventions ratified by Turkey. However, the FIDH urges Turkish authorities to take further steps to eradicate torture and ill treatment as a matter of priority, by ensuring that the supervision of prisons and police stations by prosecutors are accompanied by monitoring via independent bodies not connected with state officials, and by ensuring that any allegation of torture be investigated rapidly and in depth.
The report will be available in February.

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