Associated Press: Council of Europe Cites Rights Abuses in Turkey

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner has blasted Turkish authorities for widespread human rights abuses in a stark review of the anti-government protests in Turkey earlier this year.

The report by Nils Muiznieks published Tuesday also says that many allegations of abuse by Turkish police are not being investigated.

“The Commissioner considers that impunity of law-enforcement officials committing human rights violations is an entrenched problem in Turkey,” the report said.

The Turkish Justice Ministry had no immediate comment on the report, which comes just weeks after the European Union resumed membership talks with Turkey that had been stalled for more than three years.

Thousands of demonstrators were injured and five were killed during nationwide protests in May and June that were sparked when police cracked down on protesters objecting to the razing of the Gezi park in central Istanbul.

“There are serious, consistent and credible allegations of excessive use of force, in particular excessive and improper use of tear gas and ill-treatment during and after apprehensions,” Muiznieks said in a statement. “These raise very serious concerns, requiring a determined response from the Turkish authorities.”

Muiznieks’ report warns that a failure to conduct independent investigations will result in numerous cases being referred to the European Court for Human Rights. The court oversees the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which all 47 members of the Council of Europe, including Turkey, have signed.

The Council’s report also raises concern about moves by the Turkish government to investigate groups that aided demonstrators, including doctors and lawyers.

“The Commissioner also expresses deep concern about a climate of fear of reprisals by administrative and judicial authorities for non-violent involvement in the Gezi events,” the report says.

The report also cites numerous incidents of mistreatment of journalists trying to cover the protests.

Desmond Butler
26 November 2013