Sunday 19 November 2017

Detainees 'tortured by police' following Turkey coup bid

Turkish officials have repeatedly denied claims of human rights abuses in the wake of the failed coup
Turkish officials have repeatedly denied claims of human rights abuses in the wake of the failed coup

A human rights group has claimed Turkish police tortured or abused detainees following the failed coup attempt in July.

In a 43-page report, Human Rights Watch said that a state of emergency adopted after the coup attempt - which is still in effect - has weakened safeguards against torture.

It details 13 alleged abuse cases, including sleep deprivation, severe beatings, sexual abuse and rape threats. Turkish officials have repeatedly denied claims of abuse.

The report said: "The prohibition of torture in international law is absolute and cannot be suspended even in times of war or national emergency.

"And yet, the emergency decrees remove crucial safeguards that protect detainees from ill-treatment and torture."

It called on the authorities to "immediately rescind those provisions of the emergency decrees that enable abuse".

Turkey launched a massive crackdown on suspected followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of masterminding the failed July 15 coup.

At least 32,000 people have been arrested, among them soldiers, policemen, judges and teachers.

Human Rights Watch said the emergency decree provisions, which include denying lawyers access to medical reports, have made documentation and corroboration of ill treatment and torture allegations difficult.

The New York-based group said it was able to gather evidence of abuse in ad hoc facilities set up after the coup attempt.

It quoted one police officer telling a detainee: "Because of the state of emergency, nobody will care if I kill you. I will just say I shot you while you tried to run away."

It said those words were overheard by the relative of another person in detention.

There was no immediate reaction from the government to the report. But Turkish authorities have for months denied allegations of rights violations.

Justice minister Bekir Bozdag tweeted on Sunday that there is no abuse or torture in Turkey's prisons, arguing that Turkey was being unfairly accused and that a special unit was established to investigate all claims.


Press Association

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