to the Bureau of the Turkish Grand National Assembly
From the Human Rights Organisations
13 October 2016
We write you this letter with reference to the statement of 1 October 2016 made by AK Party Deputy and Chairperson of TGNA Prisons Sub-Committee Mr Mehmet Metiner to Hülya Özmen Karabağlı the correspondent of Duvar Daily, which has not been disclaimed so far, as well as Mr Metiner’s speech delivered and attitude displayed at the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee meeting which was also published in Yeni Çağ Daily of October 6, 2016.
In his aforementioned statement published in Duvar Daily Mr Deputy noted that they would not visit the remands who are members of FETÖ and would not launch investigation into allegations of torture and ill-treatment related to them. He retained the same position at the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee meeting, as follows;
Following the interventions of Veli Ağbaba from CHP and Burcu Çelik Özkan from HDP, who gave examples of human rights violations at the prisons, Chairperson of TGNA Prisons Sub-Committee at the TGNA Human Rights Investigation Committee Mr Mehmet Metiner has taken the floor. Metiner strongly reacted to the allegations that FETÖ members who were involved in the coup attempt were subjected to torture and that she was not willing to visit the remands who are FETÖ members, and said; “We will not surrender to such black propaganda of FETÖ terrorists. We will not surrender to these attempts of spin doctoring. I do not believe that FETÖ members are being tortured. There are no applications as such. However I believe that an operation of spin doctoring through the question of “are you being subjected to torture” asked to the terrorists, should not be allowed. I believe that the Parliamentary committee should not become an instrument in this, they have never been subjected to torture. I have nothing to do with the blows and kicks they got during apprehension. If I were there I would have done the same. I would have done much more.”
We consider such remarks unacceptable from several points of view; the first being that such a remark has been made by an MP, and moreover a member of the prison sub-committee of the TGNA. A lawmaker who is a member of the legislative organ and moreover the head of a committee responsible for supervision cannot and should not make such remarks. Torture is a crime against humanity and refusing to conduct inspections amidst claims of torture at state facilities would further encourage officers engaged in torture and maltreatment practices, promote full impunity and commission of crimes as well as amounting to the defending of torture.
Secondly, it is an attempt to conceal the truth by a person (Member of Parliament) having the capacity to act on behalf of the public vis-à-vis claims and the possibility of the infliction of an act — which is absolutely prohibited in supranational human rights instruments and our domestic law in the framework of human rights law– in facilities under state protection and supervision and where people have been deprived of their liberties. The distinguished Member of Parliament is expressing a preconceived opinion without conducting any inquiry and is ruling out the torture phenomenon and possibility outright. He is thus breaching the principles of objectivity and impartiality
A stance that is democratic and committed to human rights should not deny torture claims or refuse to investigate them, but should inquire and investigate them and declare that necessary action would be taken within the framework of human rights law where a violation has the detected.
We would like to recall that torture has been prohibited under not only Constitutional article 17 but also under article 3 of European Convention of Human Rights, article 5 of International Declaration of Human Rights and article 7 of UN Convention of Civil and Political Rights. This prohibition applies not only under ordinary conditions of the regime but also during times of war and other extra-ordinary circumstances [state of emergency]. We want the relevant provisions to be reminded to the distinguished deputies.
Constitutional article 15, article 15 of the ECHR, and article 4 of the UN Convention of Civil and Political Rights foresee that torture and maltreatment are absolutely prohibited also during times of war and in states of emergency and that obligations will not diminish thereof.
Turkey is a signatory to not only the above-cited documents but also a party to the UN and CoE conventions for the prevention of torture.
Pursuant to the ECtHR ruling, the State is obligated to prove that torture and maltreatment incidents occurring in places under its monitoring and supervision had not been perpetrated by public servants (in other words, in line with negative obligation, public servants had not inflicted torture); [and that] in fact, the State should take necessary measures to make sure that torture and maltreatment do not take place (in other words, complied with the positive obligation of taking measures).
Also from this standpoint, the remarks of the distinguished deputy are unacceptable.
We protest distinguished MP Mehmet Metiner due to the position he has assumed in the face of torture allegations.
No one, regardless of the motive, can be subjected to torture and maltreatment.
Torture is an assault on human dignity and is absolutely prohibited. The State is under the obligation of not inflicting, preventing, investigating, prosecuting and trying torture as well as punishing the perpetrators thereof.
This obligation cannot be suspended, diminished or neglected.
Helsinki Citizens Assembly (hYd), Human Rights Association (İHD)
Human Rights Research Association (İHAD), Human Rights Agenda Association (İHGD)
Association for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed (Mazlumder)
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV)