Turkey suffering rights rollback under Erdogan: HRW

Turkey suffering rights rollback under Erdogan: HRW

Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:14AM GMT

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Turkey is suffering a “worrying rollback” of human rights under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, criticizing Ankara for what it calls restricting judicial independence and media freedom.

In its report on Turkey published on Monday, the New York-based rights body accused the Turkish government of “increasing intolerance towards political opposition, public protest and critical media.”

“The [Turkish] government feels no hesitancy to intervene in the criminal justice system when its interests are threatened,” the HRW report said.

Erdogan was elected as the president of Turkey in August after more than a decade as prime minister. Erdogan’s final year as prime minister saw unprecedented anti-government protests and corruption charges against his close allies.

Over the past months, Turkey has adopted a series of controversial laws aimed at tightening Ankara’s control over the judiciary system as well as internet access.

Such moves are seen as retaliatory measures taken by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the wake of a graft scandal that hit the then premier’s inner circle late last year. Erdogan had slammed the corruption probe as a “smear campaign” planned by outside forces.

Elsewhere in the report, the HRW also pointed to the 2013 protests against the Erdogan administration, adding that there had been “near impunity” for police violence against the demonstrators.

“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,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, HRW’s Turkey researcher.

The HRW report also criticized Turkish media for failing to challenge the government and said large parts of media in the country follow a pro-government line.

Turkey has often been criticized for cracking down on journalists and sentencing them to long prison terms. Media freedom advocacy groups have on numerous occasions described the country as the world’s largest prison for journalists.

The Turkish government has not yet commented on HRW report.

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