US-based group warns tor­ture in Turk­ish pris­ons is wide­spread since failed coup last year

The National - News - - WORLD NEWS - Agence France-Presse

Hu­man Rights Watch yes­ter­day claimed there was grow­ing ev­i­dence of de­ten­tion abuses in Turkey after last year’s failed coup, warn­ing that tor­ture in po­lice cus­tody had be­come a “wide­spread” prob­lem.

The US-based watch­dog cited “cred­i­ble ev­i­dence” of 11 cases of se­ri­ous abuse, in­clud­ing se­vere beat­ings, sex­ual as­sault or the threat of sex­ual as­sault and be­ing stripped naked.

It said the 11 cases rep­re­sented a frac­tion of the cred­i­ble re­ports ap­pear­ing in the me­dia and on so­cial me­dia.

“Such re­ports in­di­cate that tor­ture and ill-treat­ment in po­lice cus­tody in Turkey have be­come a wide­spread prob­lem,” HRW said in its lat­est re­port.

The al­leged vic­tims are sus­pects ac­cused of links to ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions or to or­gan­i­sa­tions or in­di­vid­u­als which the Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties be­lieve to be linked to the at­tempted coup.

Some de­tainees re­ported their ill-treat­ment to prose­cu­tors or dur­ing court hear­ings, but HRW said the com­plaints were not in­ves­ti­gated “ef­fec­tively”.

The group ac­cused the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment of fail­ing to act to stamp out “abu­sive prac­tices” which it claims have be­come far more com­mon in po­lice cus­tody over the past year.

“As ev­i­dence mounts that tor­ture in po­lice cus­tody has re­turned to Turkey, the gov­ern­ment ur­gently needs to in­ves­ti­gate and call a halt to it,” Hugh Wil­liamson, Europe and Cen­tral Asia di­rec­tor at HRW, said.

HRW said vic­tims were fright­ened to com­plain for fear of reprisals against their fam­ily.

The group said there were five cases of ab­duc­tions in Ankara and the west­ern city of Izmir be­tween March and June “that could amount to en­forced dis­ap­pear­ances”.

In one al­leged case cited by HRW, On­der Asan, a for­mer teacher, was “ab­ducted” in April and was miss­ing for 42 days be­fore he turned up in po­lice cus­tody and was then sent to pre­trial de­ten­tion.

The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment has not com­mented.

Last month, jus­tice min­is­ter Ab­dul­hamit Gul said Turkey had “zero tol­er­ance for tor­ture”, not­ing the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to hu­man rights.

HRW said those most at risk of tor­ture were sus­pects de­tained over al­leged links to the coup-plotters or the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party.

Turkey has blamed the at­tempted over­throw of pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan on the US-based Mus­lim preacher Fethul­lah Gulen and his or­gan­i­sa­tion, which Ankara has dubbed the Fethul­lah Ter­ror­ist Or­gan­i­sa­tion. Mr Gulen de­nied Turkey’s ac­cu­sa­tions and in­sisted his move­ment pro­motes peace. Since July 2016, more than 50,000 peo­ple have been ar­rested for their al­leged links to Mr Gulen.

HRW also warned of the pres­sures on lawyers who face “ob­sta­cles and risks” as well as the fear of reprisals while rep­re­sent­ing their clients.

AFP

Po­lice de­tain a man in Septem­ber last year dur­ing a protest after teach­ers were sus­pended over al­leged links to mil­i­tants

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