Praising Turkey, UN expert urges further rights protections in counterterrorism

24 February 2006 –

Saying that Turkey has shown “remarkable commitment” to reform over the past years, a United Nations rights expert today called on the country to further reduce tensions in its terror-racked southeast region, affirming that counterterrorism must be pursued with full respect for human rights.

“All Governments have to comply with international human rights standards at all times, also and in particular when fighting terrorism,” according to Martin Scheinin, an independent, unpaid expert mandated by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to monitor human rights in light of counterterrorism, following a one-week visit to Turkey today.

During his trip to Ankara and Diyarbakir Province, the Special Rapporteur, as he is known, consulted with Government authorities and visited four institutions for the detention of persons suspected of or convicted of terrorist crimes.

According to a statement released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Scheinin noted “with great satisfaction” that many efforts undertaken by the Turkish Government, such as intensified rights training, a zero-tolerance policy vis-à-vis torture, a significant improvement in conditions of places of detention, and the enactment of a victim’s Compensation Act have led to significant progress.

However, he recommended the country take further steps to strengthen available domestic and international procedures for the protection of human rights and for countering any remnants of impunity.

He also called for further progress in reducing the tensions in southeast Turkey to create an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for every individual in Turkish society.

“In the long run, full implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as investment in basic social infrastructure helps to eliminate conditions that may be conducive to individuals making the inexcusable decision of resorting to acts of terror,” Mr. Scheinin said.

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