Opposition MP to take Ankara bar’s decision not to publish torture report to UN working group

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has said he will take a decision made by the Ankara Bar Association not to publish a report drafted by the bar’s human rights committee on allegations of torture made by detainees held at a police detention center in January to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).

The report was presented by the committee to the management of the Ankara Bar Association, which decided not to publish it. Several lawyers and the head of the committee resigned in February in protest following the bar’s decision. Last week Ankara bar’s president Kemal Koranel resigned amid criticism over the bar’s failure to publish the report.

WGAD has the mandate to investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or inconsistently with the international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the international legal instruments accepted by the states concerned.

The lawyers who resigned earlier said the bar administration had also censored the committee’s statements on the Saturday Mothers case, the health of former HDP deputy Aysel Tuğluk in prison, European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments on human rights violations in the country and the imprisonment of former military cadets.

People who were detained due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, were subjected to torture at a police detention center in Ankara, according to a report by the TR724 news website on January 25.

TR724 said 300 people were detained in January in police raids across Turkey as part of investigations overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Gergerlioğlu on February 10 tweeted that he had “finally” been able to read the report. “It [the report] has everything: insults, swearing at the detainees, humiliating and battering them and threatening them with sexual torture. The document has the quality of an international report. So why is this report still not published and why were no criminal complaints filed [on the allegations of torture in it]?” the lawmaker said.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

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