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Council of Europe’s Anti-Torture Committee: report on Turkey goes public

A report issued today by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) assesses the treatment of persons held in police stations, prisons and other places of detention in Turkey. The report is published at the Turkish authorities’ request.
24/04/2002
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The CPT’s findings – following a visit to the country from 2 to 14 September last year – confirm the gradual improvement already observed by the Committee in 2000 as regards the treatment of persons detained by the police in Istanbul. According to the Committee, resort to methods of severe ill-treatment would appear to be far less frequent than in the past. However, a considerable number of allegations of serious forms of ill-treatment were received in the Sanliurfa and Van areas.

The CPT’s delegation received no evidence of any form of physical ill-treatment of Abdullah Öcalan, and his material conditions of detention remain on the whole very good. Nevertheless, the CPT emphasises that he should at the earliest opportunity be integrated into a setting where contact with other prisoners and a wider range of activities are possible.

On the contentious issue of communal activities for prisoners in the new F-type prisons, the CPT welcomes the steps taken to supplement the activities already on offer by regular association (conversation) periods for up to ten prisoners. At the same time, it recommends that the existing precondition for enjoying this possibility be dropped. All prisoners should be eligible for participation in the association periods, irrespective of whether they already take part in another communal activity, concludes the Committee.

Recent constitutional and legislative changes in Turkey, reducing police custody periods and strengthening safeguards against ill-treatment, are welcomed by the Council of Europe’s Anti-Torture Committee. Nevertheless, the CPT highlights further steps required, in particular as regards the right of access to a lawyer. Serious reservations are expressed concerning the operation of provisions applicable in the state-of-emergency region, which allow for prisoners to be returned by judicial decision to the custody of law enforcement agencies, for further questioning.

The Turkish authorities have stated that they will publish their response to the CPT’s report as soon as it is finalised. The report is available at the following address: http://www.cpt.coe.int