21 July 2016
Turkey: State of emergency must not roll back human rights
President Erdogan’s announcement of the imposition of a state of emergency must not pave the way for a roll-back in human rights or be used as a pretext to further clamp down on freedom of expression and protections against arbitrary detention and torture, said Amnesty International today.
Following a meeting of the National Security Council and the Turkish cabinet late Wednesday night, President Erdogan announced that the government will impose a state of emergency for at least three months.
“In the wake of the violence surrounding the attempted coup, taking measures prioritising public security is understandable. But emergency measures must respect Turkey’s obligations under international law, should not discard hard won freedoms and human rights safeguards, and must not become permanent,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.
“In a situation where almost 10,000 people are currently in detention, amidst allegations of ill-treatment in custody, and when government ministries and media institutions are being purged, the enhanced powers afforded by the state of emergency could pave the way for a further roll back on human rights.”
In a chilling harbinger of what is to come, the deputy Prime Minister announced today that for the duration of the state of emergency the government will suspend the European Convention on Human Rights.
The state of emergency allows the Prime Minister along with his cabinet the power to rule by decree and bypass Parliament. Amnesty International fears that the move could be used as a pretext for the authorities to extend the period of pre-charge detention which currently stands at four days. Under the current circumstances such an extension could further undermine protections against ill-treatment as well as the right to a fair trial. Emergency measures could also be used to impose arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, and to deny the right of civil servants to appeal their suspensions and dismissals.
“Under international law, there are certain rights, like the right to a fair trial and bans on torture and discrimination, which can never be suspended or limited in any way.” said Andrew Gardner