This page summarizes cases raised with Turkey by the Special Rapporteur between May 1, 2011, (when the Special Rapporteur took up his functions) and February 28, 2017 (the date of the last public release of communications). Communications are released to the public once per year. This page also contains observations on these communications and on responses received from Turkey.
Communications and observations are divided into sections based upon which observation report they originally appeared.
Each communication is referenced as urgent appeal (UA), allegation letter (AL), joint urgent appeal (JUA) and joint allegation letter (JAL) – the hyperlinks lead to these documents. This is followed by the date the communication was issued, as well as the case number and the State reply (also hyperlinked if available).
Summaries and communications are published only in the language of submission (in the case of Turkey, English).
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Turkey for its reply to his communication dated 8 February 2012. He regrets that it did not respond to his communication dated 18 October 2011. He urges the authorities to provide as soon as possible detailed responses to all the concerns raised in the latter communication.
The Special Rapporteur underscores States‟ obligation to ensure that no individual is criminalised for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He is concerned about the physical and psychological integrity of defenders working on Kurdish rights, in the exercise of their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He recommends to the Government to take all relevant measures to ensure that no individual who exercise their legitimate freedoms, is subjected to any acts of harassment and intimidation.
The Special Rapporteur would like to thank the Government of Turkey for replying to the two communications he sent on 4 July 2012 and on 9 August 2012.
The Special Rapporteur notes that some members of civic associations that were subject to the communications sent during the reporting period have now been released. He urges the authorities to ensure that no one is criminalised for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He urges urges urges urges the authorities to take positive measures to ensure that all individuals without discrimination of any kind can freely exercise their right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly in all parts of the country. He further urges the authorities to ensure no one is subject to, or threaten to be subject to, discrimination, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals when exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms.
The Special Rapporteur refers to Human Rights Council resolution 21/16, and in particular operative paragraph 1 which “reminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights”.
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Turkey for its replies to his communications.
The Special Rapporteur takes note of the detailed response received concerning the protest that took place around Istanbul’s Gezi Park in May 2013 and the police intervention in relation to the mentioned protest. He nevertheless would like to remind the authorities that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression play a decisive role in the existence of effective democratic systems as they are a channel allowing for dialogue, pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness. Any restriction on these rights should be prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society, proportionate to the aim pursued, and subject to an independent, impartial, and prompt judicial review.
The Special Rapporteur refers to Human Rights Council resolution 24/5, and in particular operative paragraph 1 that “[r]eminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law”.
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur is grateful for the cooperation extended to the mandate, in compliance with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010). He thanks the Government of Turkey for the detailed reply to the communication sent on 16 January 2015 (TUR 1/2015), indicating that the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office was in the process of investigating 37 individuals, including Mr. Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper, and Mr. Hidayet Karaca, general manager of the Samanyolu Media Group, for allegedly manipulating information and conveying opinions to stigmatize a group of individuals as belonging to a terrorist organization. The Special Rapporteur asks the Government to keep him informed on the progress made into the investigations at the earliest opportunity. Moreover, he thanks the authorities for the response to the communication sent on 27 March 2014 in relation to alleged restrictions on fundamental rights in the context of elections (TUR 3/2014).
Law regulating the Internet
In relation to the Law on Regulations on the Internet and Combatting Crimes Committed by Means of Publication through Internet, No. 5651, the Special Rapporteur notes with appreciation that the Constitutional Court annulled the decision to block access to the Twitter website on 2 April 2014 after a series of court rulings objecting the measure as unconstitutional and in violation of international human rights laws and standards (TUR 3/2014). He calls on the Turkish Government to take all the necessary steps to guarantee full compliance of its legislation with the State’s international human rights obligations and warns it against possible vague or ambiguous provisions that allow for arbitrary interpretations and restrictions to the right to associate online.
The Special Rapporteur calls on the authorities to guarantee an unhampered access to the Internet and echoes Human Rights Council resolution 26/13 on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet. Moreover, he reminds the Government of its obligation to promote and protect a vibrant civil society, and to ensure a conducive environment to the free exercise of the right of association; a right enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Turkey on 23 September 2003.
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for its invitation to carry out a visit to the country during the second half of 2016. He hopes to respond to the authorities in the briefest delays with a proposal for dates for this visit, within the framework of his other mandated activities for 2016, and reiterates his appreciation to the Government for its collaboration with the mandate.
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Turkey for its response to his communications sent during the reporting period.
The Special Rapporteur acknowledges the Government’s release of human rights lawyer and journalist Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz from custody and the lack of criminal charges against Mr. Cengiz’s wife, also a journalist, Ms. Sibel Semira Hurtas. Nevertheless, the Special Rapporteur reiterates his serious concern over the shutdown of critical media outlets, the harassment, arrest and detention of an alarmingly high number of journalists, and the severe compromise of academic and educational freedoms, as well as the severe crackdown on civil society and human rights defenders in the country, which have all been addressed in a number of communications from the Special Procedures.
The Special Rapporteur acknowledges the Government’s statement that repressive measures in the Sur district and Dyarbakir city were undertaken in the context of ongoing terrorist attacks. However, he reiterates his grave concern at the apparent use of “anti-terrorism” provisions to silence dissenting voices and to stifle the exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and association.
Overall, the Special Rapporteur urges the authorities of Turkey to protect and promote the rights to free association and peaceful assembly. In this regard, he reminds the Government of its positive obligation to ensure that civil society, including human rights defenders and political activists, can carry out their legitimate work free in a safe and enabling environment without fear of threats or acts of intimidation, harassment or assassination of any sort.
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Turkey for its invitation to visit the country.
For the full reports, containing communications, replies and observations for all countries, see the following links: