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Turkey / Human rights: Government postpones visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture

GENEVA (21 September 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today expressed his deep disappointment with the decision taken by the Government of Turkey to postpone his visit to the country, which was scheduled to take place from 10 to 14 October 2016.

“While I understand that the developments in Turkey during the last months demand the government’s fullest attention, I believe that postponing my visit at this late stage sends the wrong message,” said the human rights expert. “In light of the thousands of arrests made following the failed coup-attempt of 15 July 2016, and the allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many detention centres throughout the country, my visit is of utmost importance.”

“Independent monitoring of the situation in places where individuals are deprived of their liberty is a crucial safeguard against ill-treatment and torture”, the Special Rapporteur added. “Due to the sensitivity of my mandate there will never be a perfect time for my visit” he noted, and stressed that even in a state of emergency, safeguards against torture and ill-treatment and other fundamental human rights must remain in place.

Mr. Méndez, whose six-year term as a Special Rapporteur ends on 31 October, will be unable to conduct the visit in November or December 2016 as proposed by the Turkish government. He conveyed his understanding to the Turkish government that the invitation for a fact-finding visit is extended to his successor and calls upon the Government to welcome his successor and allow him or her unfettered access to all places where individuals are deprived of their liberty.

“Visits by UN mechanisms are carried out in a spirit of constructive cooperation”, the independent expert stated, “They are aimed at formulating pertinent and practical recommendations to the respective governments with the ultimate objective of strengthening the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.”

ENDS

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. He has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Turkey: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/TRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Andrea Furger (+1 202 274 4058 / afurger@ohchr.org), Jon Izagirre (+41 22 91 79715 / jizagirre@ohchr.org) or write to sr-torture@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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