Turkey should scrap rights body bill, says Human Rights Watch

June 20, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:38:00

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Turkish government to draft a bill seeking to establish a National Human Rights Institution, saying the proposed body would lack impartiality and independence from the government, in a press release on Wednesday.

“Turkey needs an effective and independent human rights body capable of holding the government to account, and these plans fail that test,” said HRW Turkey researcher Emma Sinclair-Webb, criticizing the planned human rights body. “Turkey has a history of government-controlled human rights bodies and every one of them has been dysfunctional,” she added.

A bill establishing the institution was approved by the parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission on June 13, 2012, and is expected to be submitted to the General Assembly of Parliament over the next few days. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has refused to revise the bill in spite of repeated criticism from domestic and international human rights groups, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Commission over its lack of independence from the government.

According to HRW, the government’s draft fails in many ways to conform to the spirit and letter of the Paris Principles, the UN’s standards for national human rights bodies. “Most notably the draft provides for the director, vice director and members of the board running the institution to be direct government appointments, selected by the Council of Ministers, and for the whole institution to be connected to the prime minister’s office, although the specifics are unclear in the law,” the statement noted.

Among other flaws, there is no guarantee that the body will be financially independent, HRW noted, saying the proposal includes little detail about its budget.

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