The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer said in a written statement on Feb 27 that he was alarmed by allegations that large numbers of individuals were exposed to brutal interrogation techniques in Turkish custodies.

The allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in Turkish police custody have been rising since the end of his official visit to Turkey in December 2016.

“Reported abuse included severe beatings, electrical shocks, exposure to icy water, sleep deprivation, threats, insults and sexual assault,” the statement said.

“Melzer said he was alarmed by allegations that large numbers of individuals suspected of links to the Gülenist Movement or the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] were exposed to brutal interrogation techniques aimed at extracting forced confessions or coercing detainees to incriminate others.”

Melzer maintained that the authorities’ failure to publicly condemn torture and ill-treatment, and to enforce the universal prohibition of such abuse in daily practice seems to have fostered a climate of impunity, complacency and acquiescence which gravely undermines that prohibition and, ultimately, the rule of law.

Turkish government blames the Gulen movement for the July 15, 2016 failed coup while the latter denies involvement. More than 150,000 people have passed through police custody and 60,000 of them were remanded in prison over ties to the movement so far.

Meanwhile, the post-coup dragnet has netted Kurdish minority alike with thousands of people jailed over alleged ties to PKK, outlawed by Turkey, US and the EU.

“The Special Rapporteur said no serious measures appeared to have been taken by the authorities to investigate these allegations or to hold perpetrators accountable. Instead, complaints asserting torture were allegedly dismissed by the prosecutor citing a ‘state of emergency decree (Article 9 of Decree no. 667)’ which reportedly exempts public officials from criminal responsibility for acts undertaken in the context of the state of emergency,” the statement added.

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