Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is taking far-reaching steps to weaken the rule of law, control the media and Internet, and clamp down on critics and protestors, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 38-page report, “Turkey’s Human Rights Rollback: Recommendations for Reform”, outlines the rollback of human rights and rule of law in Turkey, linked to mass anti-government protests in 2013 and corruption allegations that go to the very heart of the government of the ruling AKP.
Human Rights Watch tracked the government’s response to the recent developments and made concrete recommendations, focusing on four areas: strengthening the human rights context of the peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); reforming the criminal justice system; ending impunity for past and present abuses by state officials and for family violence against women; and ending restrictions on speech, media, Internet, and the rights to assembly and association.
“Over the past year, Erdoğan’s AKP has responded to political opposition by tearing up the rule book, silencing critical voices, and wielding a stick,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “For the sake of Turkey’s future and the rights of its citizens, the government needs to change course and protect rights instead of attacking them.”
“As Turkey feels the heat of war in Syria and Iraq, Ankara has renewed its interest in closer ties to Europe,” Sinclair-Webb said. “But Turkey is unlikely to succeed in moving closer to Europe unless Turkey’s leaders take steps to reverse the rollback on rights and strengthen the rule of law.”