Freedom of expression
There was more open debate regarding previously taboo issues. However, people were prosecuted under different articles of the Penal Code because they had criticized the armed forces, the position of Armenians and Kurds in Turkey, and ongoing criminal prosecutions. In addition, anti-terrorism laws, carrying higher prison sentences and resulting in pre-trial detention orders, were used to stifle legitimate free expression. Kurdish political activists, journalists and human rights defenders were among those most frequently prosecuted. Arbitrary restrictions continued to be imposed, blocking access to websites, and newspapers were issued with temporary closure orders. There were continued threats of violence against outspoken individuals.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment persisted, especially outside places of detention, including during demonstrations, but also in police custody and during transfer to prison. In November, the UN Committee against Torture issued a series of recommendations to the authorities to combat “numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations of torture” for which the Committee expressed grave concern during their review of Turkey.
Investigations of alleged human rights abuses by state officials remained flawed and, when opened, criminal cases were routinely drawn out and ineffectual. The losing of evidence by state officials, and counter-charges being issued against those who alleged human rights abuses, contributed to the perpetuation of impunity. Independent human rights mechanisms proposed by the government were not established.
Unfair trials under anti-terrorism legislation continued. In such cases, excessive pre-trial detention without consideration of alternatives by the judicial authorities remained routine, and lawyers had no effective mechanism to challenge the lawfulness of the detention in practice.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
Constitutional amendments improving protections against discrimination failed to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination continued in law and practice.
In March, the Minister for Women and the Family stated that homosexuality was a disease and required treatment. The government failed to distance itself from the remarks and no apology was issued.
Violence against women and girls
The government’s National Action Plan 2007-10 to combat domestic violence failed to record significant progress, due in part to a lack of co-ordination, insufficient resource allocation and the lack of measurable goals.