Press release - 113(2011)
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Turkey
Strasbourg, 08.02.2011 – The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published a new report on Turkey. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, said that, while there have been improvements in certain areas, some issues give rise to concern, such as the situation of the Kurds, Roma and asylum-seekers, discrimination against members of minority religious groups and misuse of criminal law provisions.
The authorities have taken welcome steps to improve dialogue not only with recognised non-Muslim minorities but also with the Kurds, Roma and Alevis. The “democratic initiative” launched by the government for addressing unresolved issues with respect to Kurds through peaceful methods, and similar initiatives have helped to build a greater willingness in Turkish society to discuss issues of concern to persons belonging to minority groups.
Some of the most flagrant forms of discrimination have been criminalised, and training has been provided to the judiciary on human rights standards in force. Efforts have also been made to prevent misconduct by law enforcement officers, including against members of minority groups.
Individuals have however continued to be punished for expressing peaceful views and aspirations as members of minority groups in Turkey, and the application of anti-terror provisions has exposed some groups – notably Kurdish children – to a greater risk of breaches of their rights. Many Kurds moreover continue to live in difficult economic and social conditions; while welcome steps are in place to help internally displaced persons return, obstacles remain and progress is slow. The Roma also still suffer discrimination in many fields of daily life, and remain exposed to forced evictions.
Refugees recognised by the UNHCR have only a precarious status in Turkey, and asylum-seekers have suffered from serious failings in the applicable legal provisions and procedures. While benefiting from some favourable provisions, recognised non-Muslim minorities in Turkey face difficulties in education due to a lack of teachers and textbooks. Non-Muslim foundations’ property rights remain an issue. There have also been fatal attacks and serious assaults against individuals that appear to have had a religious motivation.
In its report, ECRI makes a number of recommendations, among which the following three will be revisited in two years’ time:
· Strengthen criminal law provisions against racism, in particular by making racist motivation an aggravating circumstance for all ordinary offences;
· Exempt asylum-seekers and refugees from the payment of residence fees;
· Establish an independent body entrusted with investigating allegations of misconduct by members of the police or security forces.
The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Turkey in October 2009 and takes account of developments up to March 2010.
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, citizenship, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.
For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri
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