Universal Periodic Review HRFT Briefing Note

Since 2015, the exacerbation of violence related to the Kurdish issue, the failed coup attempt in July 2016, and the state of emergency (SoE) proclaimed in its aftermath have had a dramatic impact on the human rights situation.

Curfews and armed conflict brought about systematic gross and serious human rights violations, including violation of the prohibition of torture, right to life, right to access to health services, and restriction of access to basic needs. According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) data, between the dates of 16.08.2015 and 16.08.2016, at least 321 civilians were killed during curfews and armed clashes. The vast majority of the investigations into these deaths have been closed without prosecution.

Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment also significantly increased after the military coup attempt and under the SoE, which was declared on 20.07.2016 and lasted until 19.07.2018. The weakening and abolishment of procedural safeguards created an environment that facilitated torture practices and impunity.

Between 2015 and October 2019, 2823 torture survivors were supported by HRFT, among whom nearly 40% were women. Most of the applicants were subjected to torture in multiple places, such as police headquarters or police stations, police vehicles, outdoor spaces, home or workplace. While these numbers are far from covering the total number of persons tortured or ill-treated in Turkey, they are an important indicator of the prevalence of torture during this period.

In the period, HRFT has experienced a significant increase in the number of victims seeking support from 559 in 2015 to 757 during the first 10 months of 2019. Based on decades of experience documenting and fighting torture in Turkey, the HRFT believe that this reflects an increase in the use of torture by the authorities.