Our contribution to an UN Report: Psychosocial dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment

Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in his capacity made a call to stakeholders to contribute to his Report: Psychosocial dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment. The report aims to explore some of the predominant psychosocial dynamics which, in practice, tend to undermine, circumvent or even paralyse institutional checks and balances, thereby creating environments of unchecked power conducive not only to corruption but also to torture and ill-treatment. The larger purpose of the report is to show that the widespread practice of torture and ill-treatment, as well as societal acquiescence or support for such abuse, are deeply rooted in collective psychosocial behavioural patterns, which either remain largely unconscious to the human mind, or are based on fundamentally flawed rationalizations and severely distorted perceptions of reality. Relevant phenomena include patterns such as ‘system justification’, ‘wilful ignorance’, ‘bystander apathy’, ‘diffusion of responsibility’, ‘obedience’, ‘utilitarian moral disengagement’ and ‘group based moral disengagement’.

We are glad to announce that our contribution, written by Mr. Sammas Salur, PhD, has been accepted and published on the website of OHCHR. You can download our contribution https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/CallGA75.aspx under NGOs and CSO – Human Rights Defenders.

Extradition to Turkey: One-Way Ticket to Torture Unfair Trial

After 2016’s failed coup attempt, Turkey forsook the rule of law. The Erdoğan Regime has suspended or dismissed more than 125,000 civil servants, including judges, teachers, academics, doctors, police officers and others, since July 15, 2016.

Besides this unprecedented purge, 559,064 people have been investigated, 261,700 have been detained, and 91,287 have been remanded for pretrial detention with the accusation of membership of an armed terrorist organization between July 15, 2016, and November 20, 2019.

Erdoğan’s foes, or those who dissent politically and who live abroad, have been facing a judicial harassment risk, albeit to a lesser extent than those who are in Turkey. Getting them extradited to Turkey is at the top of the agenda of the Erdoğan Regime’s international policy. Turkey has sent (at least) 570 extradition requests to
94 countries. Although the overwhelming majority of these requests have failed, Turkey has physically brought back 104 Turkish citizens from 21 countries, according to its own official statements.

At least 30 of these were kidnapped, with citizens taken from abroad without any legal process whatsoever—in some cases, people have been pulled off the streets of foreign cities and bundled onto private jets that are linked to Turkey’s intelligence agency. Dozens of others, including many registered asylum-seekers, were unlawfully deported to Turkey. In one well documented case, the kidnapping of six Turkish citizens from Kosovo, one of the men that Turkey took was the wrong person—a different Turkish citizen with a similar name. The wrong man remains imprisoned in Turkey anyway.

In addition to extradition requests, Turkey has also attempted to abuse Interpol’s notice mechanism in order to track its dissidents, however, due to the political nature
of these requests, Interpol has refused 646 red notice requests that were submitted by Turkey.

Since 2016, the courts in Greece, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Romania, Bosnia, Poland, Montenegro, have refused extradition requests sent by the Turkish
authorities, which are either due to the political nature of the accusations, or due to their failing to pass a dual criminality test, or the risk of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment in Turkey.

Moreover, the UN Committee Against Torture decided on three cases that were filed against Morocco: that the possible extradition of three Turkish citizens from Morocco to Turkey would violate Morocco’s obligation under the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatments or Punishment.

The reports prepared by national and international institutions and credible civil society organizations, that are explained in detail below, together with the respective judgments and opinions rendered by courts in the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Romania, Bosnia, Poland, Montenegro and Greece, and by the ECtHR, the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on the matter, show that anyone
(principal), particularly in cases where the principal is accused of terrorism-related offences or offences against state security, who may be extradited to Turkey,
i. will most likely be subjected to torture and ill-treatment,
ii. will not be able to enjoy his right to freedom in the absence of undue
government approval, even when released by a competent court of law
iii. will not be able to enjoy the right to a fair trial,
iv. and, his right to counsel will be unlawfully hindered.

Finally, in the view of the well-established positions of the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee, the UNCAT and the WGAD,
i. The treatment the principal will receive at the hands of Turkish official bodies will constitute serious violations of Articles 3 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and would be a violation of Article 3 of the UN Convention Against Torture,
ii. Any state which extradites an individual, particularly those who are accused of terrorism-related offences, or offences against state security, to Turkey, will be breaching its obligation under the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention Against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights.