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UN expert says: Torture and abuse ′widespread′ in Turkey following July coup bid

The UN's special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, told reporters in Ankara on Friday that measures taken in Turkey following the July coup attempt had created an "environment conducive to torture."

"Testimonies received from inmates and their lawyers suggest that in the days and weeks following the failed coup torture and other forms of ill treatment were widespread," he said.

Melzer's made the comments after a six-day tour of Turkey to investigate allegations of torture. His visit comes one month after US watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Turkish police of torturing detainees arrested in connection with coup attempt.

The UN rapporteur also cautioned that Turkey's prisons and holding cells were often overcrowded: "Most facilities visited were overcrowded, with occupancy ranging from 125 to more than 200 per cent of the actual capacity." However, Melzer also noted that, after visiting facilities in Ankara, Diyarbakir, Sanliura and Istanbul, the overall conditions were generally satisfactory.

Recent legislation and statutory decrees passed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had created a "climate of intimidation," he said, discouraging victims from filing complaints or speaking out about their abuse.

"Holding cells, currently keeping individuals for up 30 days without any access to fresh air, are not suitable to detain anyone for more than 48 hours," Melzer said.

Sweeping security measures adopted as part of Turkey's state of emergency, which was extended by 12 weeks in October, mean that people are held in custody without judicial review for up to 30 days and without access to a lawyer for five days, according to Melzer.

"Worldwide experience shows us that it is precisely in the first hours and days after arrest that the risk of abuse, including torture and other forms of ill-treatment, is highest," he said, urging the Turkish government to live up its declared "zero-tolerance" policy on torture.

Read more: UN expert: Torture and abuse ′widespread′ in Turkey following July coup bid | News | DW.COM | 02.12.2016

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