Turkey’s top court orders gov’t to pay damages to complainant in torture case, reinvestigate allegations

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of an applicant who claimed he had faced torture and inhuman treatment in prison in 2018 and ordered prosecutors to reinvestigate the allegations.

Yasin Güngör was sentenced to six years, three months in 2014 by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court for alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and was sent to a prison in Turkey’s eastern province of Elazığ.

The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Güngör claimed he was tortured in prison on May 2, 2018 and filed a complaint two days later, but the prosecutor’s office decided not to pursue the case, citing a lack of evidence.

In its ruling the Constitutional Court ordered the Turkish government to pay Güngör TL 67,500 ($3,600) in non-pecuniary damages and to launch an investigation into the alleged perpetrators.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish prisons and 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.

An annual report by Amnesty International (AI) on the state of human rights in the world has revealed that serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were made in Turkey last year.

According to a report drafted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu, there were 2,694 deaths and 3,145 incidents of torture or maltreatment in Turkey in 2021, with 925 of them taking place in prisons.

In its 2021 human rights report on Turkey, the US Department of State listed credible reports of arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of persons in custody, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and the continued detention of tens of thousands of persons for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech as being among the significant human rights issues in the country.

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