Turkey: State’s UPR commitments on rule of law only a façade (UN Statement)

The ICJ and IHOP today put the spotlight the lack of independence of the judiciary and the abuse of criminal and anti-terrorism laws in Turkey, speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The statement, made during the consideration of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Turkey, reads as follows:

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Human Rights Joint Platform (IHOP) welcome the acceptance by Turkey of recommendations to ensure the independence of the judiciary (recommendations 45.112, 45.113, 45.114, 45.115, 45.118, 45.120, 45.121, 45.124, 45.125, 45.126, 45.127, 45.128, 45.129, 45.132, 45.133).

The ICJ and IHOP however regret to report that, based on their research and experience, the statements by the Turkish Government that the recommendations on the independence of the judiciary have already been implemented is simply not correct.

On the contrary, during the state of emergency more than 4000 judges and prosecutors were dismissed, more than 2000 judges and prosecutors were detained, through arbitrary processes that did not meet international standards.

The judiciary in Turkey does not enjoy basic guarantees of institutional independence because its Council of Judges and Prosecutors is fully appointed by the Legislative and Executive powers contrary to international standards on judicial independence.

The ICJ and IHOP further regret that Turkey only noted and did not explicitly support the recommendations to reform its penal and counter-terrorism legislation in line with international standards on freedom of expression (recommendations 45.90, 45.91, 45.92, 45.93, 45.94, 45.95, 45.96, 45.97, 45.98, 45.99, 45.100, 45.101, 45.102, 45.103, 45.104, 45.148, 45.158).

The statement by the Government that “legal amendments have already been adopted” and that these laws are in line with international standards is also fundamentally incorrect.

Anti-terrorism laws and other criminal offences continue to be abused to unjustifiably prosecute political opposition members, judges, lawyers, prosecutors and human rights defenders.

To actually implement the recommendations accepted by Turkey, ICJ calls on Turkish authorities to

  1. radically reform the governance of the judiciary to restore its independence in line with international standards;
  2. promptly finalize all criminal and administrative cases concerning former judges and prosecutors, respecting international standards of judicial independence;
  3. truly reform the country’s anti-terrorism law, and
  4. stop all arbitrary prosecution of human rights defenders, lawyers, judges, prosecutors and academics.


Massimo Frigo, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org, t: +41797499949

AdvocacyNon-legal submissions