Top anti-torture body to visit Turkey

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The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will be visiting Turkey between 4 and 15 September, the organisation announced on Thursday.

The visit will be the SPT’s first since 2015, and aims to “assess how the authorities and the national preventive mechanism of Turkey have implemented our previous recommendations”, said SPT chairwoman Suzanne Jabbour.

The SPT will also see “how people deprived of liberty are currently protected from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and will assess their conditions of detention”, she added.

The SPT will meet with the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey (TİHEK), “to see how it is operating and fulfilling its preventive mandate since it was established”, Jabbour said.

The UN body will present its findings to the Turkish government and TİHEK.

SPT’s authority to visit unannounced any place where people are deprived of their liberty stems from Turkey’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2011. It works to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of their liberty.

A report published in May by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) found a record number of appeals from persons subjected to torture and ill-treatment in 2021. Some 984 families appealed to the foundation for their relatives who had been a victim of such treatment.

Seven out of 10 people faced treatment amounting to torture in police custody, during the detention process, or during police interventions on demonstrations, the foundation said.

Between 2015 and 2021, a total of 4779 people reported torture or ill-treatment to TİHV.

Conditions in Turkey’s prisons have been in decline for a long time, with advocacy group Civil Society in the Penal System (CİSST) recording at least 1,562 violations in 2021. The CİSST reported at least 51 deaths behind bars in the country during the same period.


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