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Turkish parliament’s human rights commission receives over 44,000 complaints in 13 years, makes only 27 criminal referrals


By SCF

June 14, 2024


Credits @FFHR.CZ



The Turkish parliament’s Human Rights Investigation Commission has received 44,925 complaints about alleged human rights violations over the past 13 years, yet has made only 27 criminal referrals, with prison conditions and the right to a fair trial topping the list, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) reported.


Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of the commission and a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party), questioned whether any research had been conducted on the commission’s effectiveness. Deputy Parliament Speaker Bekir Bozdağ confirmed that no such research has been undertaken during any legislative term.


Gergerlioğlu criticized the commission for failing to substantiate any claims of human rights violations among thousands of applications. “Not a single finding among thousands of applications, and not a single criminal complaint filed for years. What, then, is the purpose of this commission?” he questioned.


Bozdağ provided information showing that from June 2011 to June 2023, a total of 16,317 complaints related to prison conditions were filed, making it the most reported issue.

The commission has the authority to conduct on-site inspections, but it has carried out only 178 out of 987 requested reviews over the last 13 years, with 137 specifically related to prisons.


Gergerlioğlu further criticized the minimal number of prison visits conducted given the volume of complaints, describing the situation as concerning. “With thousands of applications related to prison conditions, the scarcity of visits is particularly alarming,” he said.


Alleged violations of the right to a fair trial were the second most common complaint, with 6,406 instances reported. Torture and mistreatment complaints numbered 1,554, while freedom of the press and expression saw 92 complaints.


The period from November 2015 to May 2018 saw a significant increase to 16,230 complaints, compared to 8,524 between 2011 and 2015. From July 2018 to June 2023, 15,383 complaints were filed, with an additional 4,036 since June 2023.


The ongoing decay of the rule of law and democracy in Turkey has been reflected in the reports of several international organizations and human rights NGOs. In its 2023 Report on Turkey, the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, said there were “serious deficiencies” in the functioning of Turkey’s democratic institutions, underlining continuing democratic backsliding and structural deficiencies in the presidential system.


Turkey was ranked 117th among 140 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project in October. The country ranked 137th in terms of constraints on government powers and 133rd in terms of fundamental rights.


According to European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) 2023 statistics Turkey topped the list of countries with cases awaiting judgment, with 23,397 applications, corresponding to 34.2 percent of the total.


According to Freedom House, Turkey remained “not free” with a score of 30/100 in 2023. Turkey was among the top jailers of journalists in the 2023 prison census of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and a global leader in terms of legal harassment of female journalists in a report released by the Coalition for Women in Journalism (CFWIJ).


Turkey was ranked 158th out of 180 countries in the 2024 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), while the organization reported the number of imprisoned journalists in the country at seven, far below what local and international rights groups report.President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has been involved in human rights violations beyond its own territory as well. According to a resolution adopted in June, 2023 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) the Turkish government perpetrated transnational repression using a variety of tactics including “renditions, abuse of extradition proceedings, Interpol Red Notices, anti-terror financing measures and co-opting other states to deport or transfer persons unlawfully.”





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