Released today (October 25), the latest report of the Human Rights Watch on Turkey, which is titled as ‘A blank check: Turkey’s post-coup suspension of safeguards against torture’, is a 43 pages long report including data on 13 alleged abuse cases – including stress positions, sleep deprivation, severe beating, sexual abuse, and rape threats –‘ that have been reported to have taken place in prisons under the state of emergency declared following the coup attempt of July 15.
In preparing its report, HRW has interviewed of over 40 people among whom are lawyers, human rights activists, medical staff, forensic specialists, and former detainees. In the introductory note of the report, the following summary has been shared:
“…Police behavior and pressure from the authorities have also undermined the integrity of medical examinations for those in police custody and detention by often requiring that medical examinations take place in detention facilities and in the presence of police officers, Human Rights Watch research shows. In addition, the authorities have repeatedly denied detainees and their lawyers access to detainees’ medical reports that could substantiate allegations of ill-treatment during arrest or detention, citing secrecy of the investigation.
Law enforcement officers have applied these provisions not only to those accused of involvement with the coup attempt, but also to detainees accused of links with armed Kurdish and leftist groups, also depriving them of important safeguards against ill-treatment and unfair prosecution.
All of this has taken place in a pervasive climate of fear in which lawyers, detainees, human rights activists, medical personnel, and forensic specialists told Human Rights Watch they worried that they would be next in the government’s extensive purge of alleged coup supporters. These fears are not unfounded. For example, the authorities have placed more than 200 lawyers in pretrial detention on suspicion of involvement in the coup attempt, according to the Union of Turkish Bar Associations.
Lawyers, medical personnel, recently released detainees, and family members of detainees described to Human Rights Watch 13 cases of torture and ill-treatment after the coup attempt, with varying degrees of severity. The cases include allegations of methods ranging from stress positions and sleep deprivation to severe beating, sexual abuse, and rape threats. In one incident, the allegations concerned multiple detainees. Human Rights Watch withheld most names of detainees and lawyers for their own safety because they had serious concerns about possible repercussions.
Turkish government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, declared after the coup attempt that they had zero tolerance for torture. However, the authorities have failed to respond appropriately to recent torture allegations, instead often calling those making the allegations biased and accusing them of being coup supporters or of making propaganda for the Gülen movement, headed by a former government ally who is in self-exile in the United States, which the government accuses of responsibility for the coup.”