UN’s Magazzeni: Deterioration of the human rights in Turkey ‘a cause for alarm’

Gianni Magazzeni, the UN chief of the America, Europe, and Central Asia Branch of the OHCHR.

United Nations (UN) Chief Representative Gianni Magazzeni said that the deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey is “a cause for alarm” and calls Turkish authorities to end the state of emergency as soon as possible to guarantee space for open debate free of intimidation in the process ahead of the referendum.

In an interview he gave to Vocal Europe, Gianni Magazzeni, who is the chief of the America, Europe, and Central Asia Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), has stated that “Turkey has an obligation under international law to guarantee the measures undertaken in the context of the state of emergency which are restricting human rights must be proportional and limited to what is necessary in terms of duration, geographic coverage and material scope.”

“However,” said Magazzeni, “As the UN High Commissioner put it in his recent address to the Human Rights Council, it appears that in Turkey measures taken under the state of emergency appear to target criticism, not terrorism.”

Saying that the UN Human Rights Office is alarmed at the fact that tens of thousands of people have been dismissed, arrested, detained or prosecuted following the attempted coup, including numerous judges and journalists, as well as democratically elected representatives, Magazzeni stated that “We thus encourage the authorities to end the state of emergency as soon as possible and to guarantee space for open debate free of intimidation in the process ahead of the referendum. We must also stress that there are certain rights, such as the right not to be tortured, that cannot be suspended even in a state of emergency.”

Assessing questions related to massive human rights violations targeting the people affiliated with the faith based Gülen Movement in Turkey he said that they are aware of reports that a number of Turkish citizens may be facing various restrictions or they may fear returning Turkey.  Underlining the possible detrimental human rights consequences of being rendered stateless for an individual, Magazzeni stated that “Stateless people are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations and they may face difficulty in accessing basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.”

He called the states to provide temporary residence status or other temporary protected status to any migrants who cannot be returned, including those who are refused entry to their country of origin, or who face practical obstacles in returning their country of origin or residence.

According to Magazzeni, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The principle of non-refoulement, recognized as a rule of customary international law, prohibits the return of any individual to a place where she or he is at risk of persecution, torture or other serious human rights violations.”

Magazzeni has also reminded that the principle is enshrined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and in the case of refugees, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Touching on the dire situation in Southeast Turkey, Magazzeni invited Turkish government to take advantage of the recommendations in OHCHR report, especially with regard to the need for credible and immediate investigations into the serious human rights allegations.

“As we noted in the report, we are concerned about the apparently disproportionate security operations which resulted in a very high death toll, widespread destruction and large-scale displacement. We reiterate that every loss of life in the course of security operations in South-East Turkey should be duly investigated and perpetrators of unlawful killings should be brought to justice. Moreover, Turkey must ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism comply fully with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law,” he said.

March 22, 2017

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