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Former ECtHR judge resigns from Ankara bar over ‘censored’ report on torture

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Rıza Türmen, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and head of the Ankara Bar Association’s human rights committee, has resigned from the bar due to its refusal to publish a report on allegations of torture made by detainees held at a police detention center, local media reported.

According to a report by the TR724 news website last week, people who were detained due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, were subjected to torture at a police detention center in Ankara.

TR724 said 300 people have been detained in the last month in police raids across Turkey as part of investigations overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Some of the detainees were beaten and forced to sign false confessions while in police custody, TR724 reported, citing their families and lawyers.

After receiving complaints of torture and mistreatment, lawyers from the Ankara Bar Association’s human rights committee interviewed the detainees and compiled their findings in a report.

According to the report citing the lawyers’ findings, detainees said they were subjected to beatings, forced nudity, torture involving the use of water and threats of rape.

The report was presented to the management of the Ankara Bar Association; however, they decided not to publish the report, opting to instead file a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor’s office.

The bar association’s decision sparked indignation among the lawyers who had drafted it, and six lawyers on the human rights committee resigned in protest.

Committee chair Türmen joined his colleagues and submitted his resignation from the bar on Wednesday.

Türmen represented Turkey at the ECtHR between 1998 and 2008.

The bar’s president, Kemal Koranel, denies allegations of censorship.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

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