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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued a Public Statement on Torture in Turkey on Friday, the 6th December 1996. The Committee said:

"...resort to torture and other forms of severe ill-treatment remains a commonplace occurrence in police establishments in Turkey. To attempt to characterise this problem as one of isolated acts of the kind which can occur in any country - as some are wont to do - is to fly in the face of the facts."

The Public Statement issued last Friday follows ongoing dialogue between the CPT and the Turkish government and numerous visits by the Committee to Turkey, most recently in September 1996. In the course of these visits the Committee interviewed detainees who displayed marks or conditions consistent with their allegations of recent ill-treatment by the police and found equipment which could be used to inflict torture.

The Committee noted that Turkish government ministers have issued numerous circulars and instructions designed to ensure that persons taken into custody are not ill-treated. Regarding these instructions however the Committee stated that:

"Regrettably, it is clear from the information gathered by the Committee in the course of subsequent visits to Turkey that those instructions are not yet being fully complied with, in fact little more than lip service is being paid to them."

The problem of lack of accountability is highlighted in the Statement and the Committee stressed the need for more "effective control and supervision of the activities of law enforcement agencies". The Committee had received many allegations that detained people complained of ill-treatment when brought before a Public Prosecutor but that these complaints had not been taken seriously. Moreover the Committee itself detected amongst those Public Prosecutors whom it interviewed "a tendency to defend the police rather than to view objectively the matter under consideration."

The Committee also criticised the long periods of detention allowed under Turkish law and the lack of safeguards in place during detention. Persons suspected of offences falling under the jurisdiction of the State Security Courts can still be held incommunicado for long periods by the police (up to 15 days, rising to 30 days where a state of emergency has been declared.) At present detainees "are routinely denied all contact with the outside world- a propitious state of affairs for the infliction of ill-treatment."

Regarding a Bill providing for the right of access to a lawyer after 4 days the Committee said: "In other words, access to a lawyer shall continue to be denied for four days; this is not acceptable."

The statement also draws attention to the need for further measures to be taken in order to preserve the independence of doctors who examine and treat people who have been detained.

The European Convention on the Prevention of Torture (1987) was ratified by Turkey in 1988. The CPT is intended to be a preventative system, by empowering its Committee for the Prevention of Torture to make both regular and ad hoc visits to any place of detention in member states.

During periodic or ad hoc visits, the Committee is entitled to speak privately to detainees. At the end of a visit , the Committee compiles a confidential report, which is presented to the state concerned together with the Committees recommendations. If the state fails to implement the recommendations, the Committee may issue a public statement. This is the second time that the Committee has issued a public statement on Turkey - it did so before in December 1992 when it stated that the practice of torture and other forms of severe ill-treatment was widespread in places of detention.

The problem of torture in places of detention in Turkey has been highlighted consistently by the Kurdish Human Rights Project and other NGOs. This Public Statement by the CPT is welcome recognition by an inter-governmental organisation of the seriousness of the problem.