Annual Report: Turkey 2013

May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Turkey 2013

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  • In October, İnan Süver was released from prison on the grounds that time previously spent in pre-trial detention should be subtracted from his sentence. The execution of another sentence for refusing to perform military service remained pending at the end of the year.
  • The European Court of Human Rights issued a series of judgements against Turkey following its failure to recognize the right to conscientious objection. Government officials made contradictory statements about whether they would recognize the right.
  • In March, the UN Human Rights Committee found Turkey's failure to recognize the right to conscientious objection in the cases of Cenk Atasoy and Arda Sarkut had violated Article 18 of the ICCPR.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Tens of thousands of people fleeing violence and persecution in Syria crossed the border to seek refuge in Turkey. Government figures cited by UNHCR,

the UN refugee agency, showed that at the end of the year there were more than 148,000 refugees from Syria being accommodated in 14 camps, mostly in border provinces. While the camps were well resourced and organized, many were located close to the conflict zone in Syria and all remained closed to independent scrutiny. From the second half of August, Turkey partially closed its border with Syria in violation of international law. By the end of the year, thousands of displaced people were living in dire conditions in camps beside the border with Turkey.

The government failed to adopt promised legislation protecting the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Turkey. Problems remained regarding the implementation of existing regulations, in particular with regard to allowing asylum applications from places of detention, resulting in the return of individuals to places where they may be at risk of persecution.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

The government rejected civil society calls to include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited discrimination grounds in the new Constitution. No progress was made in adopting comprehensive non-discrimination legislation. LGBTI rights groups continued to report suspected hate murders motivated by the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity, including the murders of five transgender women.

Violence against women and girls

In March, Turkey ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, and passed a law which strengthened protections and allowed for the direct application of the Convention. At the end of the year there were only 103 shelters for survivors of domestic violence, far below the number required by law.

In May, the Prime Minister announced forthcoming legislation on abortion which, if passed, would further restrict access to needed health care for women and girls and contravene their human rights. No proposals to change the law on abortion were introduced during the year, which was legalized in Turkey in 1983.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Turkey in January, February, March, April, June, August, September, October and December including to monitor trials.
  • Turkey: Uludere bombing investigation lacks credibility (EUR 44/001/2012)
  • Turkey: Follow-up procedure to the forty-fifth session of the Committee against Torture (EUR 44/007/2012)
  • Turkey: Turkish Prime Minister's staunch opposition to abortion undermines human rights (EUR 44/008/2012)
  • Turkey: Ensure safety of Syrian refugees and access for national and international monitors (EUR 44/009/2012)
  • Turkey: Time to recognize right to conscientious objection (EUR 44/010/2012)
  • Turkey: Respect the rights of hunger strikers (EUR 44/020/2012)
  • Turkey: Police actions against demonstrators must be investigated (EUR 44/025/2012)