Maat Issued a Report on the Findings of Turkey’s Review at the Human Rights Council

Okeil: The Turkish Government Flout the Recommendations, and Continues its Crackdown on Opposition

The founder of Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights released today, 2 February 2020, a report on the findings of Turkey’s review at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The report stressed the Turkish government’s disregard to respond to dozens of UN and human rights reports that confirms the spread of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance, as the number of cases of enforced disappearances reached since July 2016 to 969 cases. Arbitrary detention is another issue of concern, as more than 540 thousand people have been investigated since the coup attempt under the imposition of the state of emergency and the anti-terrorism law. In addition to arresting journalists, lawyers, jurists and party leaders for their work, more than 120 journalists are jailed in Turkish prisons, and thousands of websites and social media pages have been blocked.

Maat’s report noted that during the review session, Turkey received 321 recommendations from 124 countries. On January 30, 2020, during the report adopting session, Turkey announced its intention to consider 302 recommendations and respond to them prior to the beginning of the 44th session of the Human Rights Council. However, it rejected 19 recommendations.

The report pointed out, during the review session, that many countries criticized the Turkish government, including Germany, Canada, France, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia and Finland. They criticized and made recommendations on the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, and the rights of journalists to become effective in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. At least 20 countries have made recommendations directly related to freedom of the press, such as the arbitrary detention of journalists, attacks on media representatives, impunity, and Internet censorship.

The report also indicated that many recommendations focused on guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression, both online and offline, lifting internet blackout, and guaranteeing the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration. Additionally, many countries called for the immediate release of all persons detained for peacefully expressing their opinion, whether by demonstrating or other means of expression. Many other countries have called for the need to amend legislation, especially the terrorism law, which is inconsistent with international standards, as well as protect the rights of minorities that have been violated by the Turkish authorities.

The report stressed that many countries, including the United States and Sweden, have warned Turkey against using Article 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law as a tool for repression. Uruguay and Armenia have requested Turkey to repeal Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code that criminalizes “insulting Turkish state and its institutions”, which Turkey remains in force despite the European Court of Human Rights ruling on repealing this law. Slovenia have also brought up Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code related to “insulting the president”, and Sweden raised Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code, which provides for prison sentences for “insulting”.

For his part, Ayman Okeil, chairman of Maat for Peace, said that while Turkey has received dozens of recommendations aiming at improving the human rights situation in the country, the Turkish authorities continue to launch their repressive campaign against all forms of opposition, including large-scale attacks against political oppositions, as well as human rights activists and journalists- an issue of major concern to many countries during this session. Okeil added that we are deeply concerned about the unprecedented levels of repression currently raking place in Turkey, and we stress the need for all Council countries to come together and assemble in order to pressure the Turkish government to end its repressive policies and ensure that the Human Rights Council takes effective measures to combat human rights crises in Turkey.




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