Feb 27 2018

Turkey torture claims seriously concern UN

Allegations of widespread torture and abuse of people held in police custody are “seriously concerning”, said the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer.

The failed 2016 coup attempt, which is blamed on followers of the Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen, and the resumption of armed conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have spurred Turkish authorities to detain thousands on alleged links to these groups.

Melzer said he was alarmed by reports that many of these detainees had been subjected to torture and abuse while in police custody.

The reported abuse includes “severe beatings, electrical shocks, exposure to icy water, sleep deprivation, threats, insults and sexual assault.”

The Special Rapporteur also said he was concerned by the unwillingness of Turkish prosecutors to investigate the alleged abuse, instead “citing a ‘state of emergency decree (Article 9 of Decree no. 667)’ which reportedly exempts public officials from criminal responsibility for acts undertaken in the context of the state of emergency.”

Melzer stated that "the human right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment is absolute and non-derogable, and continues to apply in all situations of political instability or any other public emergency.”