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Arbitrary detention and the right to a fair trial: UN experts find Turkey violated human rights

29 May 2019

GENEVA (29 May 2019) — Two Turkish men living in Malaysia were arbitrarily detained and deprived of their right to a fair trial after they were extradited to Turkey and held incommunicado, the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded in a decision published today in Geneva. The finding came in response to a complaint submitted to the Committee by the victims.

The full decision is available to read on-line.

In May 2017, Malaysian police detained two men who the Turkish authorities considered to be connected to the Gülen movement. The men were rendered to Turkey without an extradition hearing or a judicial decision, and held in incommunicado detention at an unknown location. They were transferred to Denizli prison in June 2017, where they remain under a court order issued following their initial detention period.

The men claimed a violation of their right to be free from arbitrary detention, as protected by article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The victims submitted their complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, an independent expert body composed of 18 international human rights experts.  In 2006, Turkey ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which gives the Committee the mandate to examine individual allegations of human rights violations.

The Committee considered, among other factors, the length of time between the victims’ arrests and their appearance before a judge, the lack of evidence demonstrating that the victims had been informed of the charges against them, and the limited evidence submitted by the Government of Turkey to justify their detention.

People detained in the context of a state of emergency have a right to a fair trial. This includes the right to know the reason for their detention, to be promptly brought before a judge, to have access to a lawyer and for their families to know where they are and to be able to see them. In addition, during pre-trial detention, people are entitled to have their cases periodically re-examined by a judge or other judicial authority.

In its decision, the Committee requested Turkey to report back within 180 days detailing the measures the country has taken to remedy the situation.



The Human Rights Committee monitors States parties’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which to date has 172 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

Its Optional Protocol, which to date has 116 States parties, establishes the right of individuals to complain to the Committee against States which violated their human rights. The Optional Protocol imposes an international legal obligation on State parties to comply in good faith with the Committee’s Views. Further information on the individual complaints procedures before the Committees.

Learn more with our videos on the Treaty Body system and on the Human Rights Committee!

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