Human Rights Watch Report: Strengthen Law Reform Bill

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch issued a report on prospective judicial reform in Turkey.

While it notes several positive steps, it highlights a series of weaknesses in the reforms currently envisioned, including the fact that “reforms leave unchanged article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code, ‘membership of an armed organization,” under which “many of the thousands in detention for nonviolent speech and association – the majority Kurdish political activists but also journalists, trade unionists, and human rights activists – are charged with this offense rather than terrorist propaganda.” 

Human Rights Watch also notes that:

a significant omission when it comes to killings by the security services and other public officials, however. Under the present law in Turkey, the 20-year limitation period for investigations, is about to run out for thousands of cases involving execution-style killings and disappearances of civilians by state security forces in southeast Turkey and major cities in the period from1993 to 1996 at the height of the conflict with the PKK.

In repeated rulings the European Court of Human Rights has identified both a pattern of failure to conduct effective investigations into these killings as well as many substantive violations of the right to life under the European Convention.

““The reform bill makes it clear that state officials involved in torture cannot wait out justice,” said Human Rights Watch’s Chief Turkey Researcher Einclair-Webb, “It would be of enormous benefit to make it clear in law that the same is true for killings by suspected state actors.”


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