The US Department of State has released the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The report on Turkey highlighted that the Turkish government continued to “restrict freedoms and compromised the rule of law”.
The 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices submitted by the US Department of State cover internationally recognised individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.
The report, which has significant coverage of human rights violations in Turkey, stated that “under broad antiterror legislation passed in 2018 the government continued to restrict fundamental freedoms and compromised the rule of law.”
The report also highlighted the cases of torture or inhuman treatment. “Significant human rights issues included: reports of arbitrary killings; suspicious deaths of persons in custody; forced disappearances; torture; arbitrary arrest and continued detention of tens of thousands of persons, including opposition politicians and former members of parliament, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, and employees of the U.S. Mission, for purported ties to ‘terrorist’ groups or peaceful legitimate speech.”
Elected politicians jailed as ‘political prisoners’
The report pointed out the high number of political prisoners in Turkey “including elected officials” and highlighted the situation of former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair and former presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, stating that he “remained in prison on terrorism charges since 2016 despite 2018 and 2020 ECHR rulings for his release.”
Media coverage of the 2018 parliamentary and presidential candidates similarly overwhelmingly favoured the president and ruling party, stated the report.
“For example, according to a member of the Radio and Television Supreme Council, between May 14 and May 30, TRT broadcast 67 hours of coverage on President Erdogan, seven hours on CHP candidate Muharrem Ince, 12 minutes on IYI candidate Meral Aksener, eight minutes on Felicity Party candidate Temel Karamanoglu, and no coverage of HDP candidate Selahattin Demirtaş.”
‘Limited steps to punish members of the security forces’
Turkish government was reported to have taken “limited steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish members of the security forces and other officials accused of human rights abuses; impunity remained a problem.”
The report also listed the following issues as part of human rights violations in Turkey:
“Politically motivated reprisal against individuals located outside the country; significant problems with judicial independence; severe restrictions on freedom of expression, the press, and the internet, including violence and threats of violence against journalists, closure of media outlets, and unjustified arrests or criminal prosecution of journalists and others for criticizing government policies or officials, censorship, site blocking and the existence of criminal libel laws; severe restriction of freedoms of assembly, association, and movement; some cases of refoulement of refugees; and violence against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons and members of other minorities.”