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Europe rights chief reports police misconduct in Turkish protests

The Council of Europe (COE) [official website] Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks [official profile] on Tuesday released a report [text, PDF] describing numerous rights violations committed by Turkish police forces during protests in May and June of this year. In particular, Muiznieks reported the police actions resulted in injuries to thousands [AP report] of peaceful demonstrators, as well as the death of five protesters, during the Gezi Park protests. Muiznieks said that law enforcement showed a systematic and insufficient respect for binding human rights law [press release]:

There are serious, consistent and credible allegations of excessive use of force, in particular excessive and improper use of tear gas and ill-treatment during and after apprehensions. These raise very serious concerns, requiring a determined response from the Turkish authorities, such as clearer rules about the proportionate use of force by law enforcement officials in the context of demonstrations. Safeguards against ill-treatment should be strengthened and the right to free assembly better upheld.
Muiznieks also expressed concern that investigations into peaceful protesters may have a "chilling effect" on free expression within Turkey. Muiznieks urged Turkey to remove impediments to judicial investigations of the incidents and to establish an independent mechanism to allow civilians to file complaints against law enforcement officials.

Various human rights groups have called for reform in Turkey following the recent anti-government protests. In June the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Turkish government to ensure the rights of its citizens [JURIST report] to assemble freely and in a peaceful manner. In the same month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on police [JURIST report] to use non-violent tactics with civilians. Also in June the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights commended the Turkish government's decision to delay government construction that was being protested by Turkish citizens and urged authorities to work to defuse tensions [JURIST report].

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