UN official concerned about use of ‘brutal interrogation techniques’ in Turkey

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United Nations (UN) Special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Ankara, on Decem,ber 2, 2016. "Some recently passed legislation and statutory decrees created an environment conducive to torture," UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer told reporters in Ankara. Melzer's visit, the first by a UN torture expert to Turkey since 1998, comes a month after US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Turkish police of torturing detainees. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

A top UN official has expressed unease over increased allegations of torture and ill treatment in police custody in Turkey, voicing his suspicions about the use of the “brutal interrogation techniques.”

Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said Tuesday he was alarmed by allegations that people detained for suspected links to the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, or to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party were “exposed to brutal interrogation techniques” including beatings, electric shocks and threats.

Melzer was quoted as saying in a UN statement: “No serious measures appeared to have been taken by the authorities to investigate these allegations or to hold perpetrators accountable.”

There was no immediate response by the Turkish government, which in the past had professed commitment to a policy of “zero tolerance” to torture.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Fethullah Gülen strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Human rights group Amnesty International reported on July 24, 2016 that it had received credible evidence of detainees in Turkey being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since the failed coup in July 2016, while Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report in October 2017 that people in Turkey accused of links to terrorism or with the 2016 military coup attempt have been tortured in police custody while others have been abducted.

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