Human Rights Watch Report: Renewed Torture in Police Custody, Abductions

Human Rights Watch issued a large and comprehensive report today on increased evidence of torture and disappearances in Turkey.


Police detain an individual in Diyarbakır, Turkey, October 2016. © 2016 İlyas Akengin/AFP/Getty Images

The report expands on and details earlier reports by both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.  ” The findings are based on interviews with lawyers and relatives, and a review of court transcripts, including allegations that police severely beat and threatened detainees, stripped them naked, and in some cases threatened them with sexual assault or sexually assaulted them. ”

Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, noted:

As evidence mounts that torture in police custody has returned to Turkey, the government urgently needs to investigate and call a halt to it.  Given Turkey’s dark history of enforced disappearances, the authorities need to locate the men still missing, and ensure that anyone held by state agents has regular access to a lawyer and their family knows where they are.

The incidents of torture Human Rights Watch documented include:

  • The owner of a business who said that in June police repeatedly beat and kicked him and his two cousins in custody and took photos of them covered in blood, which were then circulated on Twitter and in the media;
  • A dismissed teacher and a university lecturer transferred separately in June from prison back to police custody where they say they were hooded, beaten, and threatened during police interrogation. One of the men said he was twice given electric shocks on his leg;
  • Dozens of inhabitants of a village in the southeast who in August were rounded up and beaten repeatedly in the village and then again with sticks and a rubber hose at the police station;
  • A police officer whose allegation that he was tortured in police custody in April was dismissed by the prosecutor although an X-ray showed he had sustained a broken rib; and
  • An accountant who repeatedly told a prosecutor and then a judge about being severely beaten in detention but was ignored.

Human Rights Watch documented cases in which people were abducted in broad daylight in Ankara and Izmir and held in secret detention sites in circumstances that suggest they could be enforced disappearances. The cases include:

  • Two men whom Human Rights Watch learned were abducted, detained, and tortured by people the men believed were members of the security forces. They were only released months later; and
  • A former hospital accountant, Murat Okumuş, who was abducted in Izmir in mid-June. Security camera footage showed the moment of his abduction and there are witnesses to the incident. He remains missing.


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