Welcoming concern by Turkey’s government for the human rights of the Rohingyas, and others in foreign countries, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has stated that “I encourage the (Turkish) Government to exercise the same consideration for the human rights situation within Turkey, which continues to deteriorate.”
UN Human Rights Council sessions started in Geneva, Switzerland and to continue until September 29. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein read the annual human rights report. During his speech Al Hussein has also assessed the dire human right situation in Turkey.
“Rights to freedom of expression and information are under relentless pressure, with very large numbers of Turkish journalists, judges, academics, civil servants and human rights defenders arrested and detained, and others dismissed or subjected to intrusive surveillance, censorship, threats and violence,” said Al Hussein and continued that “Individuals suspected of connections with non-State-approved religious movements or organisations that are left-wing or focus on Kurdish issues have also been targeted.”
Underlining that many of the measures taken by Turkish government appear disproportionate and may be arbitrary, he added that “The arrests this summer of 10 human rights defenders associated with Amnesty International – charged with aiding an armed terror organisation for participating in a training workshop and conducting human rights work – suggest others may also be faced with abusive procedures. I call on the Government to discontinue these practices, which undermine the vital force of an open, healthy and free society.”
Al Hussein has also urged the Turkish Government not to renew the state of emergency at the end of its term next month, and to allow adequate administrative and judicial oversight over all related procedures – including by ensuring the newly established Inquiry Commission, to handle complaints, is fully functional and independent.
He has also urged the Turkish Government not to undertake further steps towards reintroducing the death penalty, which would tarnish Turkey’s international standing and represent a step backwards for the country. Al Hussein stated that “Finally, regarding my requests for access for a team of human rights observers to visit South-East Turkey, my concerns have not abated. I remain committed to engaging with Turkish authorities on this issue; in the meantime my Office will soon release a report on the human rights consequences of the state of emergency.”
Al Hussein has also submitted a report on the human rights violations in various countries like Syria, Iraq, Israel, Iran, Venezuela, the US, Turkey and the EU and stated that in the Syrian conflict, just in 2017, thousands of civilians lost their lives in aerial or ground attacks and children made up a significant portion of these deaths.