Torture and abuse were “widespread” in Turkey in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup attempt in July, a UN expert has warned while cautioning that prisons and police holding cells are overcrowded.
Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, made the remarks on Friday at the end of a six-day visit to Turkey.
MOST FACILITIES VISITED WERE OVERCROWDED
“Most facilities visited were overcrowded, with occupancy ranging from 125 to more than 200 per cent of the actual capacity,” said Meltzer, while noting that generally the situation at prisons was satisfactory.
Meltzer was critical of measures implemented under Turkey’s state of emergency, imposed after the failed putsch by a faction in the army, saying people are held in custody without judicial review for up to 30 days and without access to a lawyer for five days.
“Holding cells, currently keeping individuals for up 30 days without any access to fresh air, are not suitable to detain anyone for more than 48 hours.”
THERE WAS A CLIMATE OF INTIMIDATION IN TURKEY
The special expert said there was a “climate of intimidation” in Turkey, discouraging people from filing complaints. He urged the Turkish authorities to investigate better allegations of abuse.
Turkey is holding about 37,000 people under arrest in relation to the coup attempt, which the government blames on followers of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based preacher.
Gulen, a one-time ally of the government, denies the charges.
Concerns over human rights and the lack of judicial process have hampered relations with the European Union.
In addition to the crackdown against Gulenists, there is concern other opposition circles are also being targeted, including Kurdish groups and independent media outlets. The government says it is targeting terrorism.