Annual Report: Turkey 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Turkey 2010

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Head of state Abdullah Gül
Head of government Recep Tayyip Erdo?an
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 74.8 million
Life expectancy 71.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 36/27 per 1,000
Adult literacy 88.7 per cent

Little progress was made on enhancing human rights protections. Reports of torture and other ill-treatment persisted, as did criminal prosecutions limiting the right to freedom of expression. The legitimate work of human rights defenders was hampered by excessive administrative scrutiny and judicial harassment. In many cases alleged human rights violations by state officials were not investigated effectively, and the chances of bringing law enforcement officials to justice remained remote. Unfair trials continued, especially under anti-terrorism legislation which was used to prosecute children under the same procedures as adults. Prison regimes showed little improvement, and access to appropriate medical treatment was commonly denied. No progress was made in recognizing the right to conscientious objection to military service, and the rights of refugees and asylum seekers continued to be violated. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people faced discrimination in law and practice, and protections for women and girls subjected to violence remained inadequate.

Background

In January a new state-owned radio and television channel was launched to provide Kurdish-language broadcasting. However, restrictions on the use of languages other than Turkish in political affairs and public and private education for children remained in force.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) declared a ceasefire in March that remained in force at the end of the year. Despite the ceasefire, further armed clashes with the Turkish armed forces resulted in loss of life.

In May, 44 people died after a shooting in the village of Bilge/Zangirt in the south-eastern province of Mardin. According to an official announcement, most of the alleged perpetrators were village guards, a paramilitary force employed by the state to fight the PKK. Guards were also among those killed. The trial of those accused of involvement in the killings began in September.

Parliament legislated in June to enable the clearing of an estimated 600,000 mines along the Syrian border. The law did not resolve the issue of landmines in other areas of Turkey's territory nor of the stockpile of landmines that Turkey maintains.

In July, construction of the Il?su dam on the Tigris River in eastern Turkey was put on hold after the three European states that had provided export credit guarantees withdrew them. Their decision reflected concerns that the project would not meet agreed standards, including human rights guarantees. The dam was expected to displace at least 55,000 people.

Turkey and Armenia signed an agreement in October aimed at normalizing relations. At the end of the year the agreement awaited ratification by their respective parliaments.

In November parliament began discussing an initiative aimed at addressing the human rights concerns of citizens of Kurdish origin and ending the conflict with the PKK. The government indicated steps to enhance human rights protections but no timeline for implementation.

In December the Constitutional Court ruled to close the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party on the grounds that it was a "focus of activities against the independence of the state, its indivisible integrity within its territory and nation". The party was closed under laws that failed to uphold international standards on freedom of association.