33rd Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances

Mehmet Ferden ÇARIKÇI 15.09.2016

33rd Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances

15 September 2016

Statement by Turkey as concerned country

Mr. President,

First of all, let me thank the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances for their official visit to Turkey, from 14 to 18 March 2016.

Turkey believes that the HRC Special Procedures have a crucial responsibility in objectively reflecting the situation on the ground throughout the country visits they have been undertaking. Therefore, having extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures fifteen years ago, Turkey is convinced that the visit of the Working Group has served as the most recent indicator of its effective collaboration with the international human rights mechanisms.

Turkey hosted the Honorable Delegation of the Working Group at a time when its people was facing serious security challenges and security forces were countering the threat of brutal terrorist organizations. As part of their Mission, the Working Group visited Ankara, İstanbul and Diyarbakır. They held meetings with officials from a wide range of state institutions, as well as with non-governmental organizations. They also visited the families who raised claims of disappeared relatives.

Our authorities made strenuous efforts for the success of the visit. They conducted comprehensive interagency studies, aiming to provide pertinent and accurate information in all areas of concern.

Especially, contacts with institutions that are actively involved with a number of files actually on the agenda of the Working Group were instrumental. For instance, in the meetings with the Constitutional Court and the Human Rights Inquiry Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, specific information was shared with the Delegation as regards current individual applications that are also of interest to the Working Group.

Unfortunately, only a few hours after the Working Group’s arrival in Turkey, on 13 March 2016, a heinous suicide bombing was carried out in Ankara by an offshoot group of the terrorist organization PKK, killing 34 innocent civilians and injuring many more. This was one of many deadly attacks by PKK, resumed since July 2015.

At this point, I would like to express our regret for the fact that in the Working Group’s report, PKK was not referred to as a terrorist organization. Indeed, PKK is a terrorist organization, listed as such internationally by numerous countries.

The EU has designated PKK as a terrorist entity since 2004. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) also refers to PKK as a terrorist entity. Since its inception in 1984, more than 40,000 people lost their lives because of PKK terrorism.

Also in the report, it is stated that the Working Group heard testimonies including the allegations of not being able to have access to the bodies of their loved ones killed during the security operations held in the Southeast of Turkey or of bodies being disposed of. It was observed that the terrorist organization did not let the families take the bodies of their relatives because it was using them as human shields. All relevant human rights instances should tackle such terrorist methods as a crime against humanity.

As a response to increasing terrorist attacks, the intervention of security forces by way of comprehensive counter-terrorism operations was compulsory to restore the public order, to ensure the public safety and security, as well as the protection of public and private property. These operations were conducted in order to stop the terrorist attacks, as well as to protect civilians whose fundamental rights have been severely infringed upon by those terrorist attacks. During the operations, all measures were taken in accordance with law and in compliance with our international obligations.

Moreover, the Working Group’s visit to Diyarbakır also constituted a clear testimony to the fact that Turkey conducts its counter-terrorism operations in a transparent way. Given the prominence of Diyarbakır, this visit demonstrated yet again Turkey’s commitment to the importance of access as a key factor of the work of international human rights mechanisms.

With regard to the Working Group’s comments on missing persons in Cyprus, I would like to underline following points: Turkey considers that missing persons on the island of Cyprus do not fall within the mandate and the terms of reference of the Working Group. This issue is being followed by the Committee of Missing Persons established among the two sides in Cyprus. In light of its ongoing work, the Committee has already been recognized as an effective internal legal remedy by the European Court of Human Rights.

Regarding the failed coup attempt of 15 July, given the magnitude of the atrocities committed,
a state of emergency was declared to protect public order. This step was taken in line with the Constitution, and in full observance of international obligations. Therefore, all related measures are driven by a strict commitment to fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, aiming to ensure accountability. Investigations are conducted in full respect to due process. Judicial remedies are available, including the right of individual application to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

To conclude, I would like to reiterate the engagement of Turkey to continue its cooperation with the Working Group on the basis of good-will, mutual respect and understanding. Before and following the visit, our authorities have been in regular contact with the Secretariat of the Working Group about the files on its agenda. With this understanding, updates on the situation of 28 persons were provided on 29 August for consideration during the 110th session of the Working Group to be held next week.

Thank you Mr President.


Sadık Arslan Ambassador

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