Prisoners in Turkey live in fear
DETAINEES have been beaten, sexually abused and threatened with rape by Turkish police, Human Rights Watch has claimed.
In a 43-page report, the human rights group said a "climate of fear” had prevailed since July's failed coup against President Tayyip Recep Erdogan and the arrest of tens of thousands under a state of emergency.
Turkey had effectively written a blank cheque to security services to torture people, the group said.
Turkey's Justice Ministry has repeatedly denied prisoners are ill-treated and says a unit has been established to investigate claims. Ankara says the crackdown is neces- sary to stabilise a NATO state facing threats from Kurdish militants as well as wars in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
HRW said it had uncovered 13 alleged abuse cases, ranging from the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation to severe beatings, sexual abuse and the threat of rape. The cases were not limited to supporters of the coup, but included detainees suspected of links to Kurdish militant and leftist groups.
Hugh Williamson of HRW said it "would be tragic if two hastily passed emergency decrees end up undermining the progress Turkey made to combat torture”.
"By removing safeguards against torture, the Turkish government effectively wrote a blank cheque to law enforcement agencies to torture and mistreat detainees as they like,” he said.
Turkey has arrested more than 35,000 people following the coup, detained thousands and sacked more than 100,000 over alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric Mr Erdogan blames for orchestrating the coup. Mr Gulen denies the charge.
The government has said the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the threat on July 15, when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets, bombed the parliament and killed more than 240 people.
Mr Erdogan declared a state of emergency days after the failed putsch, allowing him and the cabinet to bypass parliament in enacting new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms.
Amnesty International says it has credible evidence of detainees subjected to beatings, torture and rape.