Press Statement on the Occasion of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

by instituDE, published on June 26, 2020

On the occasion of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we, members of the Institute of Diplomacy and Economy (instituDE), express our solidarity with the victims of torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Recalling that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and objecting to any violation of that dignity, we affirm our commitment to strive for a world without such violations.

Despite the absolute prohibition under international law, torture continues to be practiced around the world either in isolated cases or systematically, through different forms. Torture can target everyone - men, women, and children. It is an inexcusable crime for which each perpetrator must be prosecuted, justly and proportionately penalized.

Turkey is unfortunately among the countries still haunted by torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. As documented by the reports of various international bodies such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the US Department of State, practice of torture has become systematic and widespread in Turkey in the last years. Members of the Gülen movement and Kurds have been the primary targets of torture. Even pregnant women, college students, elderly and sick people have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment.

One prime example of such incidents happened when our former colleagues were taken into custody in May 2019. Ankara Bar Association documented that at least five former Turkish diplomats were subjected to physical and psychological torture, including rape with a police baton. Although the torture incidents are being raised by international bodies and human rights activists, unfortunately no due prosecution is being carried out. Turkish authorities continue to deny even the well-documented torture cases and cover them up, which further encourages the perpetrators.

Therefore, on this particular day, we urge the Turkish government to abide by its obligations arising from the Constitution as well as international treaties, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment. We feel duty-bound also to remind the Turkish government that torture is a crime against humanity which triggers universal jurisdiction without any statutory limits at all, for anyone involved as an inciter, instigator or accomplice.

We call on the Turkish authorities to refrain from, prevent, and effectively investigate any kind of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. It is also imperative that international bodies such as the UN Committee Against Torture, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and international human rights organizations remain vigilant against torture and ill-treatment cases in Turkey and continue closely monitoring those cases.