Rights group: torture reports after failed coup in Turkey

AP News
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Posted: Oct 25, 2016 10:02 AM
Rights group: torture reports after failed coup in Turkey

ISTANBUL (AP) — A human rights group said Tuesday that Turkish police have tortured or abused detainees following the failed coup attempt in July, a claim that Turkish officials deny.

In a 43-page report published Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said that a state of emergency adopted after the coup attempt — which is still in effect — has weakened safeguards against torture. It details 13 alleged abuse cases, including sleep deprivation, severe beatings, sexual abuse and rape threats.

"The prohibition of torture in international law is absolute and cannot be suspended even in times of war or national emergency," the report said. "And yet, the emergency decrees remove crucial safeguards that protect detainees from ill-treatment and torture."

It called on the authorities to "immediately rescind those provisions of the emergency decrees that enable abuse."

Turkey launched a massive crackdown on suspected followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of masterminding the failed July 15 coup. At least 32,000 people have been arrested, among them soldiers, policemen, judges and teachers.

Human Rights Watch said the emergency decree provisions, which include denying lawyers access to medical reports, have made documentation and corroboration of ill-treatment and torture allegations difficult.

Still, the New York-based group said it was able to gather evidence of abuse in ad hoc facilities set up after the coup attempt.

It quoted one police officer telling a detainee: "Because of the state of emergency, nobody will care if I kill you. I will just say I shot you while you tried to run away." It said those words were overheard by the relative of another person in detention.

There was no immediate reaction from the government to the report. But Turkish authorities have for months been facing allegations of rights violations and have denied them.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag tweeted Sunday that there is no abuse or torture in Turkey's prisons, arguing that Turkey was being unfairly accused and that a special unit was established to investigate all claims.