Annual Report: Turkey 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Turkey 2011

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Children's rights

Following legislative amendments (see Unfair trials above) the vast majority of children prosecuted for their participation in demonstrations were released. However, flaws in the juvenile justice system, notably the absence of Children's Courts in some provinces, were not addressed, nor were steps taken to rehabilitate children previously held in extended detention or to investigate the widespread claims of ill-treatment.

Prisoners of conscience - conscientious objectors

The right to conscientious objection to military service remained unrecognized in domestic law. Conscientious objectors were repeatedly prosecuted for their refusal to perform military service, and those who voiced their public support for this right were subjected to criminal prosecution and conviction.

  • In June, conscientious objector Enver Aydemir was released after six months in military custody. Multiple charges resulting from his refusal to perform military service remained pending at the Military Supreme Court of Appeals. In the same month, human rights defender Halil Savda and three other activists were convicted under Article 318 of the Penal Code for "alienating the public from the institution of military service" following their attendance at a public demonstration in support of Enver Aydemir. The case remained pending at the Supreme Court of Appeals. A prosecution brought following Enver Aydemir's alleged ill-treatment in military custody was also continuing at the end of the year.
  • In August, conscientious objector İnan Süver was detained due to his refusal to perform military service. He was released in December but remained in prison due to previous convictions. His trial for "violation of leave" continued at the end of the year.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Access to the temporary asylum procedure continued to be arbitrarily denied, resulting in people being forcibly returned to places where they may face persecution. Immigration detention regulations ruled unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights in 2009 remained in force at the end of the year. Civil society organizations were consulted over three new laws relating to asylum but the drafts had not been published by the end of the year.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Constitutional amendments improving protections against discrimination failed to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination continued in law and practice.

  • In March, the Minister for Women and the Family stated that homosexuality was a disease and required treatment. The government failed to distance itself from the remarks and no apology was issued.
  • In April, LGBT solidarity organization Black Pink Triangle won its legal battle against closure following a complaint from the İzmir Governor's office that its statute breached "Turkish moral values and family structure".
  • In May, five transgender women, all members of the NGO Pembe Hayat, which supports LGBT people's rights, filed criminal complaints against police officers who had reportedly harassed and assaulted them in Ankara after stopping their car. The police officers filed counter charges, alleging that the activists had resisted arrest. A criminal case was opened but all the activists were acquitted at the first trial hearing.No charges were brought against the police officers.

Violence against women and girls

The government's National Action Plan 2007-10 to combat domestic violence failed to record significant progress, due in part to a lack of co-ordination, insufficient resource allocation and the lack of measurable goals. Critically, the number of shelters for women victims of domestic violence remained far below the number required in domestic law. According to official records, 57 existed in Turkey, an increase of eight over the previous year. In July, the CEDAW Committee issued a series of recommendations including the enactment of comprehensive legislation on violence against women.