As an attack against human presence and dignity, torture continues to be utilised today as an inhuman means to punish, terrorise and intimidate people all around the world.
Torture is both a crime against humanity and a common problem of humanity. Torture targets not only the victims themselves, but also the values and dignity of the whole humanity. Therefore, the field for combating torture encompasses the whole world and requires national and international cooperation. International organisations mandated to protect and promote human rights; non-governmental organisations and states must inevitably act in cooperation and determination in these efforts. Entrusted with the duty to cooperate with all of these actors, National Human Rights Institutions assume roles and responsibilities of vital importance.
Specialised organisations, institutions and bodies that are active in the field of human rights have undertaken a large number of activities to prevent torture, to ensure the prosecution of torturers, and to provide support to torture victims and families for long years. The most concrete outputs of all of these activities are international conventions, mechanisms and legal texts that have been prepared and implemented at the regional and national levels.
Specifically, the UN Convention of 10 December 1984 against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the European Convention of 26 November 1987 for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Turkey is also a party, absolutely prohibits torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and do not prescribe any exceptions to such prohibition.
The Optional Protocol of 22 June 2006 to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) provides a new and realistic approach to the prevention of unacceptable human rights violations and crimes against humanity and stipulates the establishment of a regular system of visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. OPCAT also embraces the opinion that the more transparent places of detention are, the fewer the abuses observed will be. This protocol was ratified by our country in 2011.
The Human Rights Institution of Turkey was established in 2012 and mandated and authorised to combat torture and ill treatment. On the other hand, the institution was appointed as the national prevention mechanism by the Council of Ministers in 2014. Thus, the institution was furnished with the authority to identify issues and problems through organising visits to places where people are deprived of their liberty or are under custody as a requirement of the aforementioned Optional Protocol.
In the scope of these responsibilities and duties, a large number of visits have been held to prisons, removal centres and places of detention either upon request or ex officio and many interviews have been realised with victims until now. Matters identified during these visits have been compiled into reports, which have been shared with non-governmental organisations, the public and relevant public agencies. These activities are still on-going today. Our main objective is to identify the underlying causes of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and to ensure the prosecution of relevant perpetrators.
Torture and other inhuman and cruel treatments leave severe scars not only on the victims, but also on their families and social circles. Solidarity with torture victims to enable them to restore their physical and mental health is the joint responsibility of the whole humanity and notably of human rights institutions and their members.
Respectfully presented to the public.
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