Amnesty International report reveals continuing human rights violations and social exclusion in Turkey

Amnesty International in its annual report published on Monday said Turkey experienced continuing human rights violations in 2022 and that social exclusion had increased.

The report found Turkey to be failing in the areas of freedom of expression, press freedom, protecting the rights of migrants and refugees, and prisoner rights.

“Baseless investigations, prosecutions and convictions of human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians and other persisted. Parliament introduced draconian amendments to existing laws that further restricted freedom of expression online. Police used unlawful force to detain hundreds of participants in banned Pride marches in several provinces, and the right to peaceful assembly remained severely curtailed,” it said.

Moreover, anti-refugee and xenophobic rhetoric had increased. Right-wing politicians and media were central to the growing rhetoric against migrants in Turkey, which hosts the world’s largest number of refugees. The report stated that Turkish authorities used firearms against Afghans trying to cross the border with Iran, which sometimes resulted in death or injury. Hundreds of refugees were unlawfully deported under the guise of voluntary returns.

According to the report the Turkish Parliament introduced amendments to several laws in a package dubbed the “censorship law,” which came as a serious blow to freedom of expression. These measures included the introduction of a new criminal offense of publicly spreading disinformation; increasing the power of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority to force social media companies to take down content, provide user data or face fines and severe reduction of bandwidth; and expanding existing stringent requirements on social media companies by adding criminal, administrative and financial liability.

Drawing attention to the continued prosecution of human rights defenders, the report pointed out that Öztürk Türkdoğan, from the Human Rights Association (IHD), had faced three separate prosecutions in one year for membership in a terrorist organization, insulting a public official and denigrating the Turkish nation.

In September, 23 people, including members of the Migration Monitoring Association, an Istanbul-based migrant solidarity association, were accused of membership in a terrorist organization. They were charged with spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization and funding illegal organizations.

Şebnem Korur, chairperson of the Turkish Medical Association, was arrested in October on similar charges. Before her arrest, she had called for an independent investigation into allegations that chemical weapons had been used in northern Iraq.

Turkey was found to be falling behind in protecting the rights of women, with at least 225 women falling victim to femicide in the first 10 months of 2022. According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, the number of women killed was much higher, estimated at nearly 400. Moreover, the government continued pressuring women’s organizations that monitored cases of gender-based violence and femicide.

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