The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) working under the Council of Europe (CoE) came to Turkey on Monday to urgently investigate claims of torture and abuse of rights allegations raised by those who were arrested after the July 15 failed coup attempt.
The CPT which visited Turkey most recently in May will stay in Turkey until Sept. 6 for visits to both Mamak Prison in the Turkish capital Ankara and the Silivri prison in Istanbul.
The visit comes after a report was published by Amnesty International arguing that there is credible evidence that the post-July 15 coup detainees were subjected to beatings, torture and even rape. Authorities from the U.N., EU and the CoE warned Turkey against acts of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment of its prisoners in the wake of the findings, with Amnesty International calling on the CPT to conduct an immediate investigation in an emergency visit to Turkey and calling for monitors to be granted access to detention centers to assess the conditions of prisoners. Recently, the General Secretary of the CoE Thorbjorn Jagland called on the CPT to visit Turkey as well, expressing his concerns regarding innocent people who may have been taken into custody within the frame of Turkey's state of emergency announcement. CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks warned Turkey against the detention of innocent persons as well and the decision was made to schedule the CPT's visit which was announced by EU-Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri amid international concerns.
In a statement published in July, the Justice Ministry denied allegations that coup detainees were being tortured, defining Turkey as a constitutional state that meets national and international criteria of human rights laws and emphasizing that Turkey has a zero-tolerance policy on torture. Contrary to Amnesty International's allegation that Turkey lacks an institution that monitors detention conditions in prisons, the statement issued by the Justice Ministry said that the process is being closely watched by international foundations and independent observers, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Turkey's Human Rights and Equality Institution."The health conditions of detainees both while in custody and following their release while in custody and following their release from detention are checked by doctors in accordance with international detention regulations,"the Justice Ministry's statement read, adding that any findings of torture must be reported to the public prosecutor's office.Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said: "There has not been any torture or assaults of detainees in custody," in response to allegations raised by Amnesty International.
According to previous reports prepared by the CPT regarding Turkey, the vast majority of detainees stated that they had been treated correctly while in the custody of the police or the gendarmerie, reporting no major problems during the CPT interviews. The CPT's offer to visit Turkey was immediately accepted by authorities who emphasized that there is nothing to hide regarding the conditions of detainees.
The CPT holds the limitless authority to visit and inspection more than 47 member states in order to prevent torture and inhuman treatment in prisons. Apart from the periodical visits, the CPT also holds exceptional visits in circumstances as was the case in the visit to Turkey after the failed coup attempt on July 15. The CPT usually conducts visits to Turkey once every two years and visits Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK who is serving a life sentence on İmralı Island, every time. Even though Öcalan's lawyers on Aug. 22 asked the CPT to visit İmralı and inspect current conditions there, the CPT delegation will not visit the İmralı Prison this time round.