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Human Rights Watch Report Accuses Turkish Police of Torture


FILE - Turkish gendarmeries escort one of the 11 fugitive commandos, who were involved in a failed coup attempt, at the police headquarters in Mugla, Turkey, Aug. 1, 2016.

In a report published Tuesday by the U.S. based Human Right’s Watch, Turkish police are accused of ill treatment and torture, following July’s failed coup. The government has been strongly denying any abuse.

U.S. based Human Rights Watch says there is evidence of abuse and torture in Turkey of those detained under emergency powers, which were introduced after July’s failed coup attempt.

Human Rights Watch senior Turkey researcher Emma Sinclair-Webb said with police now allowed to hold detainees for up to 30 days without charge and limited access to a lawyer, its has opened the door to abuse.

“Under the state of the emergency, basically gives the police an absolute blank cheque to do what they like to detainees during that period because nobody is really monitoring and that is what we have been documenting. People put in stress positions are beaten heavily, lots of threats of rape with a baton. People have reported a lot of threats to family. 'We will bring your wife here, we will rape your wife, we will ill treat your family,“ she said.

The 47-page report catalogued 13 individual cases of abuse. The government argues the country is facing an unparalleled level of threat since July’s failed coup in which 241 people were killed, but insist there is no torture.

The ruling AKP Party claims since coming to power in 2002 it has been in the forefront of ending torture. But the Human Rights Watch report, while acknowledging past achievements, accuses the government of removing many of the safe guards introduced to end abuse.

Last month, under an emergency rule decree the prison monitoring boards were dissolved. Sinclair-Webb said the few remaining checks to abuse are failing under a climate of intimidation.

“The climate of fear is very great. A lot of lawyers we spoke to fear retribution for reporting abuse of their clients. One lawyer, for example, gave the very painful story of how he she tried to represent a detained solider in connection with the coup attempt and had seen him beaten in front of her repeatedly to the extent that she had to turn away out of fear, she could not stop the beating,” she said.

The report points out that many lawyers are reluctant to represent those held in connection with the coup attempt, and those that do expressed fear that they too could become the target of the ongoing crackdown.

Human Rights Watch is calling for rescinding many of the powers introduced under emergency rule. It is also calling for the government to allow the U.N. special investigator on torture to visit Turkey.