Recent reports of what really goes on in Turkish police cells are spine-chilling. UN special rapporteur Nils Melzer has expressed concern about growing allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in Turkish police custody since his official visit to the country in December 2016.
According to Melzer, police officials are using brutal interrogation techniques on large numbers of individuals with suspected links to the Gülenist Movement and the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
I myself couldn’t help crying while reading reports of severe beatings, electric shocks, sleep deprivation, threats, insults and sexual assault in Turkish detention centres.
Turkish officials claim these abuses are justified by the state of emergency that has been in place since the failed coup of July 2016.
In reality they violate international law.
“The human right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment is absolute and non-derogable, and continues to apply in all situations of political instability or any other public emergency,” the special rapporteur said.
“Torture is not only a notoriously ineffective interrogation method, but it constitutes the most fundamental assault on human dignity and is invariably listed among the most serious international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity” he added.
The international community must urgently press President Recep Erdogan to end the state of emergency. Thousands of people remain imprisoned almost two years on from the failed coup. UN legal bodies have a duty to help these vulnerable people, who are now exposed to systematic torture and ill-treatment.