Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is notorious for the widespread human rights violations in the country he governs, will monitor rights violations in Turkey through a special board headquartered at his palace and chaired by him, according to a regulation published in the Official Gazette.
Erdoğan will lead the Human Rights Action Plan Monitoring and Assessment Board, which has been established as a presidential body to ensure the effective implementation of a human rights action plan unveiled by Erdoğan in March, according to the regulation.
At a time when Turkey is the subject of harsh criticism due to gross human rights violations, Erdoğan on March 2 announced the human rights action plan, which led to widespread skepticism due to the government’s poor record on human rights.
Erdoğan said the human rights action plan was based on 11 principles, nine aims and 50 goals and consists of 393 activities that will be put into action in a span of two years.
The board is like a mini cabinet, and its members include the vice president, justice minister, family and social services minister, labor and social security minister, foreign minister, treasury and finance minister, interior minister and deputy head of the Judicial Policies Board, another presidential body. The board, which will be led by the vice president in the absence of the president, will convene every six months.
The principles in the human rights action plan place individual rights and freedoms as well as human dignity under state protection. According to these principles, everyone is equal before the law no matter their religion, language, ethnicity, gender, political views or beliefs; public services should be offered to all in an objective and fair manner; public authorities are obliged to obey the law; the state protects the right to work and free enterprise; the presumption of innocence must dominate all judicial proceedings; nobody can be deprived of their freedoms due to their criticism of others; rights and freedoms are exercised in all areas as a guarantee of a state of law; and everyone who has been subjected to rights violations can easily access judicial mechanisms to seek justice.
Erdoğan’s human rights action plan received little appreciation, ostensibly because thousands of people including intellectuals, politicians and journalists are behind bars despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights for their immediate release, such as Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and businessman Osman Kavala.
Following a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, Erdoğan launched a massive crackdown on non-loyalist citizens on the pretext of an anti-coup fight, which led to the prosecution of thousands of people on trumped-up terrorism or coup charges.