GENEVA (21 September 2022) – Türkiye must take further action to strengthen the effective safeguards of detainees from torture and ill-treatment, especially during the first hours of detention and protect migrants in removal centres, experts from the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) said after their second visit to the country.
“We visited places of deprivation of liberty in seven cities throughout the country and could see satisfactory material conditions in almost all these places. However, we remain concerned about the effective exercise of the fundamental rights and guarantees during the first hours of detention, which are of paramount importance for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment,” said Suzanne Jabbour, Chairperson of the SPT and Head of the Delegation.
“We are also concerned about the living conditions in many of these places, including overcrowding, as well as the situation of migrants in removal centres,” she added.
The SPT delegation visited Türkiye from 4 to 15 September 2022 and received professional cooperation from all Turkish authorities during the mission.
The delegation also engaged with Türkiye’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), which is part of the Human Rights and Equality Institution and is mandated to prevent torture and ill-treatment and monitor conditions of deprivation of liberty. Türkiye ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2011 and established its NPM in 2014.
“We conducted two joint visits to detention facilities with the NPM, in addition to meetings to discuss its operation and working methods. We call on the Government to significantly strengthen the NPM’s independence and resources in order for this mechanism to effectively fulfil its mandate under the OPCAT, given the oversized population of numerous places of detention in the country,” Jabbour said.
Under its mandate, the Subcommittee can visit all States parties to the Optional Protocol and carry out unannounced visits to places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty.
During this visit, the SPT delegation met with government officials, including twice with the Minister of Justice, to confidentially present its preliminary concerns and observations, as well as with legislative and judicial authorities, civil societies and UN agencies.
The SPT will now prepare two confidential reports, one with its recommendations to the Government of Türkiye and another with its recommendations to the Turkish NPM.
The SPT delegation to Türkiye consisted of Suzanne Jabbour, Head of Delegation (Lebanon), Catherine Paulet (France), Daniel Fink (Switzerland), and Juan Pablo Vegas (Peru).
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To date, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture has been ratified by 91 states. States are under the obligation to allow the SPT unannounced and unhindered visits to all places where persons are deprived of their liberty. States Parties should also establish a national preventive mechanism, which should conduct regular visits to places throughout the country where people are deprived of liberty.
The mandate of the SPT is to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of their liberty, through visits and recommendations to States parties to the Optional Protocol. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, where necessary, to national preventive mechanisms. However, States parties are encouraged to request that the SPT publish the reports.
The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial 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.