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UN rights committee criticizes Turkish counterterrorism laws

The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) [official website] criticized Turkey on Thursday for prosecuting activists under the country's vague counterterrorism law. The UNHRC alleged that Turkey has gone against international law standards by denying due process rights under its 1991 Anti-Terrorism Law [Reuters report]. UN rights experts allege that Turkey has been prosecuting activists, lawyers and journalists, holding them without cause and blocking access to a lawyer for pre-trial proceedings. There are currently nearly 100 journalists in Turkish prison, in addition to thousands of lawyers, activists, politicians and military officials. These prisoners are held in prison mainly on charges for plotting against the government or supporting Kurdish militants. The UN urged Turkey to modify its laws to ensure that they are compatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. There is growing concern that Turkey is turning to authoritarian rule.

Turkey has recently faced criticism for its human rights record. Last month the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled [JURIST report] in X. v. Turkey that a gay man was detained in violation of Articles 3 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In July a Turkish court ordered [JURIST report] the release of 16 individuals detained on accusations of having links to Kurdish militants. Also in July the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau called on the government of Turkey and authorities in the EU to respect the rights of migrants [JURIST report] in the continent. In June the Turkish ruling party planned to abolish the special courts [JURIST report] used in coup and terrorism trials. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) plans to present a reform package including the proposed abolition of special courts to the country's parliament before the recess.

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