Turkey has delayed a visit by U.N. anti-torture special rapporteur in the wake of criticism by human right groups over alleged mistreatment of inmates arrested following a military coup attempt on July 15.
Juan Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, said Turkey delayed his four-day visit on Wednesday, which was scheduled for Oct. 10. Mendez said the delay “sends a wrong message” at a time when rights advocates raised deep concerns that inmates detained in connection to the coup are being tortured in Turkish prisons.
At least 43,000 people have been detained since the coup attempt over alleged links to a septuagenarian Turkish born Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania for almost two decades. The Turkish government accuses him of masterminding the coup d’etat. The cleric denies any involvement.
“At least 14 people have reportedly committed suicide either after they were imprisoned over ties to the movement or after being linked to the movement outside prison,” says Turkey Purge, a website that tracks the post-coup crackdown.
Last week, 47-year-old prosecutor Seyfettin Yigit was found dead in the toilet, who was arrested in connection to the coup on July 20.
Amnesty International said in July that it has gathered “credible evidence” that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centers in the country.
“Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape,” the Amnesty said in a statement on July 24.
Turkish prisons had been notorious for extrajudicial killings, mostly in the form of suicide, in 1990s. But the torture and these type of killings significantly reduced in the past decade, up until the failed coup attempt.
U.N. rapporteur Mendez, whose term expires in October, urged the Turkish government to allow his successor “unfettered access”.
Late last month, ahead of a visit by The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) delegation to Turkey, Turkish National Police Department warned all its personnel to abide by the international detention laws and stop using unofficial detention centers in a classified letter which was leaked to the Turkish Purge.