Posts Tagged ‘Committee against Torture’

“Turkey NGOs” urge UN Committee Against Torture to undertake Turkey enquiry

June 10, 2019

The substantive parts of the report (produced below) seem quite solid but it is rather annoying that four out of the five NGOs in question all come with rather broad and general names while in fact cover solely or mostly Turkey:
International Association for Human Rights Advocacy in Geneva (IAHRA GENEVA),
Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF),
Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST),
HRD Human Rights Defenders e.V. and
Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF).

Among main arguments addressed within the document sent to the CAT Secretariat, it is emphasized that:

‘Following the graft probes of December 17 and 25, 2013 that exposed the prevalent corruption within the government, the then Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has initiated a gruesome scheme to seize control of all aspects of the Turkish society. The bogus coup attempt of July 15, 2016 granted the Erdogan Regime the carte blanche it needed. The Regime, with all the state apparatuses including the judiciary under its tight grip and a well-oiled propaganda machine fed by appropriated public funds, turned the Gulen movement into a scapegoat and unleashed its wrath onto innocent people in Turkey and around the world.

This wrath demonstrated itself in a government policy of wide-spread, deliberate and systematic human rights violations. The notoriously-long custody periods with little to no oversight due to introduction of state of emergency and ensuing legislative decrees, Gulenists have been pressured into making “confessions”. The judiciary is far from being independent and impartial, and as such, there has been effectively no judicial review of arbitrary detentions – numbers of which is more than 400 in a regular week. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has so far found nine cases of fundamental human rights violations pertaining to cases of Gulen movement followers.

Systematic, deliberate and wide-spread torture as a government policy, which manifested itself lastly with the torturing of diplomats in Ankara Police Headquarters, is made possible by, inter alia, practices of prolonged detention, prohibition of lawyer-client meetings and/or violation of their confidentiality, dissolution of all prison monitoring boards and prevention of obtaining fair medical examination reports. The practice of torture to extract confessions is well documented by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Human Rights Watch (HRW). These practices include battery, rape, sexual assault and threats thereof, electroshocks and waterboarding. The acts of torture take place particularly at the time of arrest and during the preliminary detention. In addition to the communication a list of alleged perpetrators of torture or ill- treatment is also submitted to the United Nations as an Annex.

Not only Turkey lacks competent and willing judicial bodies to investigate well-grounded allegations of torture, it also suffers from obscuring of evidences of torture. For instance, in a leaked confidential document, the Directorate General of Security (National Police) instructs all 81 provincial police departments to cover up traces of torture in detention centres and not to use official detention centres [for torture] ahead of a fact-finding visit by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) of the Council of Europe (CoE). The OHCHR and HRW both underline pervasive climate of fear and difficulty to document and investigate acts of torture and other forms of ill- treatment.

The Erdogan Regime’s security and intelligence arms have not abstained from abducting people either. All 26 cases of enforced disappearances in Turkey so far follow a similar pattern, which proves the fact that it is a systematic effort. The victims spend months with their conditions or whereabouts unknown, are subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Enforced disappearances are not confined within the borders of Turkey, the government abducts people abroad as well. Turkish Foreign Minister brazenly boasted about kidnapping of 100 individuals by the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) from 18 countries. These victims have also reported being subjected to severe torture.

Penitentiaries are no exception to the rule of systematic human rights violations. In lack of official figures, it is estimated that there are more than 3000 inmates held in solitary confinement. Prolonged detention in solitary confinement is a degrading punishment in itself, but more importantly, it is conducive to other acts of torture and ill-treatment. As such, there are 54 documented, murky cases of suicide in penitentiaries. These suspicious deaths are in fact due to torture and lack of adequate medical care.

The Erdogan Regime has also systematically targeted vulnerable groups such as expectant or new mothers, elderly, sick and disabled persons. The OHCHR reported 50 cases of women being arrested just before or after giving birth and estimates that there are 600 mothers held in detention with their young children. In almost all cases, these women were charged with alleged offences of their husbands, ina total disregard for the principle of individuality of criminal responsibility.

The information available provides a reasonable basis to conclude that multiple offences within the scope of Article 6(c) and 7(1) of the Rome Statute have been committed by the Erdogan Regime as a government policy, in its systematic and widespread attack on followers of the Gulen movement, particularly in the aftermath of 15 July coup attempt. There are also strong indications that rape (Article 7(1)(g) of the Rome Statute) and threats thereof have been systematically and deliberately resorted to by the government in its attacks against the movement.

The NGOs call on the Committee Against Torture as well as all relevant bodies of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Court and other international organizations to initiate investigations and to stay vigilant in prevention of practices of systematic and widespread torture and other forms of ill-treatment by the Erdogan Regime and bringing perpetrators of such acts to justice. The said organizations pledge to remain active in its endeavors to this end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joint NGO submits observations on Turkey to UN Committee Against Torture

Russia: closing offices and attacking human rights defenders

March 17, 2016

An update on the situation human rights defenders in Russia is unfortunately needed too frequently. Recently the Martin Ennals Foundation condemned the attacks on its 2013 Laureate, the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) which is known for its courageous work in opening legal cases on behalf of victims of torture in Chechnya. On March 9th, they were travelling together with journalists and the group was physically attacked, their confidential notes stolen, and the vehicles they were in burned. Their offices in Ingushetia were also attacked. The international and local media have reported (see list at bottom of the post). This is part of an ongoing pattern of threats and intimidation directed against JMG.

Now, Human Rights Watch and others report that yesterday (16 March) Igor Kalyapin, head of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, one of the founders and participants of the Joint Mobile Group, was attacked as he was leaving his hotel in Grozny. They also pelted him with eggs, and threw flour and bright antiseptic liquid on him, which stained his face and clothes.  “The attack on Igor Kalyapin shows again that it’s open season on human rights defenders in Chechnya,” said Hugh Williamson, of Human Rights Watch. “The authorities’ utter failure to hold anyone to account for a series of vicious attacks in recent years is like a bright green light for further attacks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Russian Olga Sadovskaya keeps fighting torture

December 2, 2015

Yesterday I announced the “10 December, 10 Defenders” Campaign by OMCT. One the first profiles concerns Russian human rights defender Olga Sadovskaya.

Olga Sadovskaya does not shout, or carry banners in the streets; nor does she complain about the threats and insulting graffiti she regularly finds painted on the fence around her house.  This sober 36-year-old lawyer, who practices yoga in her spare time, has put her legal skills and intellectual rigor in the service of the cause of fighting torture.  As Deputy Director of the Committee Against Torture, theNGO that won the 2011 Council of Europe Human Rights Prize, she focuses on winning legal victories in torture cases by thorough investigative groundwork, sophisticated medical reports and legal expertise.

Everyone should care about torture because anyone could be the next victim,” Olga says. “If torture is condoned or indeed widespread, it means that the State’s legal system is not working properly, not only when torture is involved, but at all levels.” Torture works like a litmus test. If it is accompanied by impunity, the legal system is dysfunctional. “There is no guarantee that the law will work properly in ordinary, day-to-day situations, as when someone asks for a bank loan, sues for damages, needs her child to be protected from abuse or her mother to be provided with anaesthesia”, she explains.

The work pays off. In the 13 years she has been with the Committee, she and her colleagues have filed 84 complaints at the European Court of Human Rights, managed to put more than 100 police officers in jail for torture, with clients receiving almost 46 million roubles (700,000 USD) in compensation, and several lives being saved by evacuation from Chechnya.

Olga describes her work as a constant challenge given the Russian Government’s attempts to close down independent human rights organizations.  For lack of substantive arguments, the Government accuses the Committee – partially funded by international donors, as most NGOs – of being a foreign agent, in order to prevent it from accessing funds that allow it to function. This is a commonly used tactic against human rights activists. Rather than simply banning an NGO, some States block its access to external funding by a variety of restrictive measures – legal, administrative or practical – which being, less obvious, are less likely to draw international condemnation. Although, as a result, the Committee might run out of money within three months, Olga keeps ploughing through her cases with unwavering faith that her work is about restoring trust in the State. [for more on foreign agent, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/foreign-agent/]

Story by Lori Brumat in Geneva.

OMCT-LOGO

Source: Russian Federation: Olga and the paradox of fighting torture: Revealing legal dysfunctionality, building trust / November 1, 2015 / Links / Human rights defenders / OMCT

Deportation of Human Rights Defenders: two European cases next to each other

September 1, 2015

Just two cases (unrelated) to show how media report differently (or not at all):

Antifascists hold an action protesting public events held on the occasion of the day of memory of the Latvian Legion Waffen-SS at the Freedom Monument in Riga
© SPUTNIK/ ILYA PITALEV Anti-Nazi Activism Now Seen As ‘National Security Threat’ in Lithuania

On 1 September Sputnik reports under the title “Moscow slammed Vilnius for persecution of human rights defenders” how Moscow is concerned about Lithuanian authorities’ recent decision to deport three rights activists. “Lithuanian authorities handed over decisions to three well-known Latvian human rights activists that they had to leave the country within 24 hours, with two being banned entry for five years,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This shameless move by Lithuanian authorities, which can only be interpreted as persecution of human right defenders, causes serious concern.

Source: Russia Criticizes Lithuania’s ‘Shameless’ Deportation of Rights Activists

Then I remembered an old case from a Danish newspaper of 21 May 2015 which read: “Russia moves to deport Danish activist group“.

It said that 3 members of a Danish human rights group faced possible deportation after being accused of breaching immigration rules. The Danish, German and Latvian citizens were participating in a workshop jointly organized by the prominent Russian rights group Committee Against Torture and the Danish Institute Against Torture (Dignity). Migration officials had stormed the hotel venue in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth-biggest city, and demanded that the foreigners accompany them for questioning. A court in Nizhny ruled that German lecturer Uwe Harlacher, a psychologist, had entered the country with the wrong visa, said the head of the Committee Against Torture, Igor Kalyapin.
[Last year, four American students were deported after attending a leadership conference. Russian officials said they had tourist visas but were not engaged in tourism.]

Not enough detail in any of these cases to judge definitely who is right and wrong, but interesting to note how authorities like to play with rules which suit them.