The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) published a briefing about Turkey titled "Anti Terrorism Law and Human Rights Defenders" today (Jun 13).

Announcing the briefing with a press release, OMCT said, " Turkey has been employing counter-terrorism and national security legislation to restrict rights and freedoms and silence the voices of human rights defenders."

"In the last three months of 2021 alone, no less than 1,220 human rights defenders suffered judicial harassment or reprisals."


"The women and men who monitor respect for our rights and freedoms also play a crucial role in protecting societies from terrorist acts", said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary-General.

"It is ironic that these are the very people that the Turkish authorities target by subverting the fight against terrorism to quash any form of dissent, including the defense of human rights."

"With Turkish courts becoming willing executioners of State policy, we see an increase in the arbitrary sentencing of human rights activists."

State of Emergency became permanent

Underlying that since 2016, Turkey has been governed by a "State of Emergency" regime, the statement included the following:
"Although officially abolished on 19 July 2018, this regime was in fact made permanent via a raft of regulations."

"Key to the government's strategy is Anti-Terrorism Law No. 3713, which is used to fully restrict rights and freedoms and silence the voices of human rights defenders."

"The excessively vague and broad definition of terrorism in the law allows to label peaceful human rights defenders as 'terrorist offenders'"

"HRA and HRFT on the target"

OMCT noted that only in 2020, 6551 people were prosecuted under the anti-terrorism law, while a staggering 208,833 were investigated for "membership in an armed organization", including thousands of human rights defenders in Turkey.

"Targets include the Human Rights Association (İHD/HRA) – a member of OMCT's global SOS-Torture Network - and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (THİV/HRFT), whose leadership have at least 30 investigations and prosecutions pending against them. The OMCT has documented the ongoing intimidation and criminalization of Eren Keskin and Öztürk Türkdoğan, HRA co-chairs." OMCT said.

Reference to UN and the Council of Europe resolutions

OMCT also drew attention to the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on Turkey's failure to respect human rights and the rule of law.

"The Council of Europe has also recently launched proceedings against Turkey following its refusal to comply with decisions by the European Court of Human Rights."

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is the largest global NGO group actively standing up to torture and protecting human rights defenders worldwide. It has more than 200 members in 90 countries. Its international Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.