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UN human rights commissioner urges Turkey to end state of emergency

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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in an opening statement for the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, expressed concern about the deterioration of human rights in Turkey and urged the Turkish government not to renew a state of emergency that was declared immediately after a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Addressing the significance of free and independent handling of complaints by an Inquiry Commission established to investigate applications related to the loss of state jobs, al-Hussein asked the Turkish government to end the state of emergency.

“I urge the Turkish Government not to renew the state of emergency at the end of its term next month, and to allow adequate administrative and judicial oversight over all related procedures –- including by ensuring the newly established Inquiry Commission, to handle complaints, is fully functional and independent.”

Al-Hussein also referred to the discussion about the reintroduction of the death penalty and pressure on freedom of expression and warned that Turkey’s progress was threatened by such moves.

“Rights to freedom of expression and information are under relentless pressure, with very large numbers of Turkish journalists, judges, academics, civil servants and human rights defenders arrested and detained, and others dismissed or subjected to intrusive surveillance, censorship, threats and violence.”

More than 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 including judges, academics, civil servants, journalists and human rights activists have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Tayyip Erdoğan targeted individuals affiliated with Gülen movement, which is accused of mounting the coup attempt last year, while the movement strongly denied any involvement.

Drawing attention to the “arbitrary” and “disproportionate” nature of government measures, al-Hussein argued that people might be faced with “abusive procedures” as shown the arrest of 10 human rights defenders.

“Individuals suspected of connections with non-State-approved religious movements or organisations that are left-wing or focus on Kurdish issues have also been targeted,” al-Hussein said, calling on the government “to discontinue these practices, which undermine the vital force of an open, healthy and free society.”

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