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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Turkey, Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory and Yemen

14 July 2015

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:  Geneva
Date: 14 July 2015
Subject:   (1) Turkey, (2) Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory and (3) Yemen

(1) Turkey

We are deeply concerned by recent attacks, discriminatory treatment and incitement to violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey. In the past two weeks alone, reported incidents include the appearance of posters in Ankara encouraging the murder of LGBT people; a violent homophobic attack against a group of young gay men in Istanbul; as well as rape, assault and robbery against Kemal Ördek, a human rights defender and founder of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association. We are further concerned about allegations that in the last case, police officers trivialized the attack, used discriminatory language, tried to dissuade the victim from filing a complaint, and did not provide protection from additional threats by the alleged perpetrators. These incidents follow reports that the police used unwarranted force against individuals who were peacefully assembling and participating in the 13th Istanbul LGBT Pride Parade.

Everyone is entitled to the same fundamental human rights without discrimination or arbitrary restrictions of any kind, including the rights to life, liberty, physical integrity, privacy, equality before the law, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We call on the Turkish authorities to take active measures to combat homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, to uphold the rights of LGBT people to peacefully assemble and express themselves and to ensure that LGBT victims of crimes are treated with respect and dignity and have access to protection mechanisms and effective remedy. This includes publicly condemning violence and hate speech against LGBT people, ensuring that legislation on discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and adopting policies to overcome discriminatory attitudes among public officials, including the police and judiciary.

It is critical for authorities to prevent impunity for these human rights violations through prompt, effective, independent and impartial investigations and prosecution in line with fair trial norms and standards. In that regard, we welcome the commitment by Turkey during the Universal Periodic Review to ensure the investigation, prosecution and punishment of serious human rights violations motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The UN Human Rights Office stands ready to support efforts to this end.

(2) Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory

We welcome the recent release of Khader Adnan who had been on hunger strike since 5 May 2015 in protest at his continuing administrative detention by the Israeli authorities since 8 July 2014. We reiterate our call, last made in April, on Israel to end its practice of administrative detention and to either release without delay or to promptly charge all administrative detainees, affording them all the due process guarantees required by international human rights law and standards.  At the end of March 2015, 396 Palestinians including one woman were reportedly held in administrative detention in Israel Prison Service (IPS) facilities.  Administrative detainees are held without charge or trial, often on the basis of secret evidence, for periods of up to six months, which are extendable indefinitely. The Secretary-General, the UN Human Rights Office and the Human Rights Committee have called for this practice to end.

On 14 June 2015, the Israeli cabinet approved a bill that would permit the force-feeding of Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners. We are concerned that the bill is now advancing towards final approval by the Knesset. When a similar bill was proposed in the Israeli Knesset last year, both the High Commissioner and a group of Special Procedures mandate holders expressed concerns that the implementation of such a law could breach international human rights standards. We reiterate those concerns today.

We are also seriously concerned at the situation of another Palestinian hunger striker, this time being detained by the Palestinian authorities. Islam Hasan Jameel Hamed has been protesting since 11 April 2015 at his continued detention by the Palestinian General Intelligence Services despite a Palestinian court ruling that he has served his sentence – originally imposed in 2011 – and should be immediately released. Hamed is in his fourth month without food and his condition is now very serious. We urge the Palestinian authorities to respect the court ruling and release Islam Hamed.

(3) Yemen

Between 3 and 13 July, at least 142 civilians, including 36 children and 27 women, were killed, and 224 others injured. This brings the total civilian death toll since 26 March to 1,670. Another 3,829 were injured during this period. Civilian infrastructure has also suffered, with at least 187 sites partially or completely destroyed as a result of the armed conflict.

On one particularly deadly day, 6 July, two markets in different provinces were hit by airstrikes. In a market in Afiosh area in Lahj Governorate, 40 civilians including 12 children and seven women were killed while 17 other civilians were injured. In a popular market in Amran Governorate, an airstrike killed 36 civilians, including eight women and nine children and injured another 21 (including five children).


For more information and media requests, please contact  Rupert Colville  (+41 22 917 9767 / [email protected]) or Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / +41 79 618 34 30/ [email protected]).