Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, A/HRC/29/37/Add.4, 6 May 2015: Turkey
During the period under review, killings due to excessive use of force by security officers and killings of members of vulnerable groups persisted. Some measures taken by the State, including a draft law that would increase the powers of the police to use force, appear to take regressive steps. The Government of Turkey has introduced measures in an attempt to reduce domestic violence, but efforts need to be further intensified and properly implemented. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons remain particularly vulnerable to violence and lack protection, in law and in practice. The fight against impunity remains a serious challenge and the effectiveness of investigations and the length of proceedings should be addressed. The effect of the application of the statute of limitations and the lack of fully independent mechanisms for accountability further aggravate the climate of impunity.
3. The Special Rapporteur made recommendations in the following broad areas: protection of the right to life for vulnerable groups; the capacity of accountability mechanisms and the functional and operational independence of such mechanisms; law reform to ensure greater protection of the right to life; and awareness-raising campaigns and education to enhance protection of vulnerable groups, in particular lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
III. Violations of the right to life by State actors
E. Suspicious suicides of military conscripts and law enforcement officials
33. Nonetheless, despite those positive measures, there is still no independent mechanism to handle complaints from military conscripts; ill-treatment continues; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons remain particularly vulnerable.
IV. Challenges to respect of the right to life by non-State actors
C. Killings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals
42. The Special Rapporteur highlighted the vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in Turkey. The Special Rapporteur recommended that Turkey enact comprehensive and specific legislation on hate crimes in accordance with international standards and review legislation to include language sensitive to gender identity and sexual orientation (ibid., paras. 109 and 110).
43. Turkey indicated, in its response, that an amendment to article 122 of the Criminal Code, introduced in 2014, provides for hate crimes. However, the Special Rapporteur notes with regret that sexual orientation has not been included as a ground.
44. The Special Rapporteur was also informed that a draft law on the establishment of an anti-discrimination equality board was still pending before the Office of the Prime Minister. It is unfortunate that references to gender identity and sexual orientation were removed from the bill in the early stages of drafting. Turkey has yet to enact hate crime-specific legislation that is inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation.
45. The Law to Protect Family and Prevent Violence Against Women is silent on gender identity and sexual orientation.
46. The challenges relating to the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are exacerbated by the attitude of some family members of such individuals, as well as the trend observed by the Special Rapporteur during his visit, whereby law enforcement officials and the judiciary seem to take a lenient attitude towards crimes committed against such individuals. In order to address those challenges, the Special Rapporteur recommended that awareness-raising campaigns and training should be launched on the rights of those individuals (ibid., para. 114). The Government of Turkey informed the Special Rapporteur that members of the judiciary were under an obligation to investigate and adjudicate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Despite this, it appears that discrimination and lenient attitudes continue, in practice. The Special Rapporteur notes with regret that no explicit training or awareness-raising campaigns in relation to the rights and protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are taking place in the country.
V. Fight against impunity
E. Prosecutorial and judicial discretion
70. The Special Rapporteur was informed that the practice of misusing arguments of mitigating factors continues, especially in relation to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims. The broad framing of article 29 of the Criminal Code without a definition or guidelines on the meaning of “unjust act” could allow for a subjective interpretation and abuse of the provisions of the article. With regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, the courts sometimes reduce the sentence of the perpetrator by deciding that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity itself constitutes an “unjust act”.
80. Despite the challenges, a number of positive measures have already been put in place. The Action Plan for the Prevention of Violations of the European Convention on Human Rights is a welcome initiative and should be fully implemented. Measures taken to protect women from violence and unlawful killings are a welcome first step, but they need to be fully implemented in order to ensure effective protection, in practice. Protection of other vulnerable groups, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, is seriously lacking, in law and in practice. Law reform must continue to bring domestic laws into full compliance with international human rights standards. The continued commitment of the Government of Turkey to work with regional and international bodies to strengthen the human rights situation in the country is welcomed.
Summary of follow-up to each recommendation
B. Right to life and non-State actors
16. To reduce the vulnerable situation of LGBT individuals, Turkish legislation should be reviewed to include language sensitive to gender identity and sexual orientation.
This recommendation has not been implemented.
20. Awareness-raising campaigns as well as training of security officials and professionals of the judiciary should continue with regards to the rights of women and gender equality, and should be launched on the rights of LGBT individuals.
This recommendation has not being (sic) implemented.
27. “Unjust provocation” should not be misused as a mitigating factor in cases which involve alleged morality motives as a cause of killing, in particular in cases of honour killings and killings of LGBT individuals. “Good conduct” during legal proceedings should also not be used to reduce sentences in such cases.
This recommendation has not been implemented.
Link to full text of the report: Report-SREJE-Turkey-2015-eng
- 27. Ibid. [State response, October 2014.]↵
- 28. See European Commission, “Turkey Progress Report” (October 2014), p. 59 (see footnote 7) [available from http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2014/20141008-turkey-progress-report_en.pdf].↵
- 29. State response, October 2014.↵
- 30. See, “Human Rights Violations of LGBT Individuals in Turkey”, available from www.kaosgldernegi.org/resim/yayin/dl/upr_submission_on_lgbt_ppl_in_turkey.pdf.↵
- 44. See A/HRC/23/47/Add.2, paras. 95–132.↵