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Turkish terror laws faulted by UN rights envoy

[JURIST] The United Nations [official website] Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Martin Scheinin sharply criticized Turkey's anti-terrorism laws [JURIST news archive] Thursday, claiming Turkey's definition of terrorism is too broad and vague with respect to local terrorist groups. In particular, Scheinin stated that the 2001 law [text] "defines terrorism based on its purpose or aims rather than referring to specific criminal acts" and expressed concern [press release] that people may be convicted of terrorist crimes without a sufficient connection to a terrorist act. Scheinin's comments come at the heels of a one-week fact-finding mission. Conversely, Turkish security forces complain that the anti-terror laws and the penal code restrict their efforts against crime and terrorism.

Turkey [JURIST news archive] has amended its laws several times to increase its likelihood of eventually joining the European Union [EU Turkey accession materials]. In an effort to conform to EU standards, Turkey has eased punishments for the press and introduced compensation for Kurdish villages who suffered losses in army operations. Scheinin offered to help Turkey reform its anti-terror legislation to raise the laws up to international norms, while urging the Turkish government to sign several multilateral accords guaranteeing civic and political rights. Scheinin particularly criticized a 1991 act aimed at calming a Kurdish rebellion in the southeast and suggested that the laws should ensure that Kurds can freely use their language and have access to education through their own language. AFP has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

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