“I don’t know how many times they hit my client. I couldn’t look at it anymore. …I would normally refuse to sign an interrogation report given under such conditions, or would make a note of the conditions on the report, but that I was too afraid to do either,” a lawyer told Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a clear reference to re-emergence of torture in Turkish prisons.
In a 43-page report, “A Blank Check: Turkey’s Post-Coup Suspension of Safeguards Against Torture,” published on Tuesday, HRW documented 13 specific abuse incidents concerning Turkey’s post-coup detainees. The alleged abuse cases ranged from use of stress positions and sleep deprivation to severe beatings, sexual abuse and the threat of rape.
HRW said it had interviewed more than 40 lawyers, human rights activists, former detainees, medical personnel, and forensic specialists before preparing the report.
The watchdog said Turkey’s post-coup emergency decrees facilitated torture as they removed safeguards against ill-treatment.
What follows is the full text of the third abusive incident in the series published by HRW on Tuesday.
“A legal aid lawyer sent to the Ankara Security Directorate in the first few days after the failed coup attempt told Human Rights Watch that police repeatedly beat one of her clients, an officer suspected of involvement in the failed coup, during interrogation.She recounted a chaotic scene in a corridor where she witnessed police interrogate several people at the same time. Her client, she said, wanted to exercise his right to remain silent. She told Human Rights Watch:
‘Several policemen were standing behind him. He was sitting on a chair in front of a table. To make him talk they whipped him with plastic strips that are normally used as hand-cuffs and punched him with their fists in the head and his upper body. He couldn’t do anything to protect himself as he was hand-cuffed.’
“The lawyer tried to intervene to stop the beating, but to no avail. She said:
‘At some point I just turned away. I don’t know how many times they hit him. I couldn’t look at it anymore. I knew I couldn’t do anything to stop it. In the end he gave a statement…’
“The lawyer told Human Rights Watch that she would normally refuse to sign an interrogation report given under such conditions, or would make a note of the conditions on the report, but that she was too afraid to do either.
‘I was the only lawyer there at the time. There was violence everywhere and the police were not happy to see me there, saying, “What do these people need a lawyer for?’
“The lawyer said that the officer did not mention the ill-treatment during the court- hearing that sanctioned his arrest and sent him to pre-trial detention. The lawyer has since refused to accept new clients as a legal aid lawyer.”