May 18, 2021 / Turkey Human Rights Accountability Projects makes its first submission to UK Foreign Office to have notable abusers of human rights in Turkey placed on the United Kingdom’s sanction list.
Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project (TUHRAP) made its first submission to the UK Foreign Office, to have notable abusers of human rights in Turkey placed on the United Kingdom’s sanction list. The submissions were made in the framework of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act) under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, the UK’s Magnitsky Act.
Prepared by prominent barristers Kevin Dent QC and Michael Polak, the submission contains evidence files of three well documented torture cases from Turkey.
Kevin Dent QC:
“It is hoped the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office engage positively with the submission in accordance with its aim of deterring gross abuses of human rights. This submission seeks to play its part in establishing the new UK system of designations which, if applied evenly and fairly, could play an important role in the development effective mechanisms for deterring abuses of human rights worldwide.”
The evidence we have considered in drafting our submissions is shocking in that it shows that torture is inflicted upon individuals of all different backgrounds in Police stations in Turkey. From the threats and mistreatment applied to a lawyer for simply doing his job, to the mass arrest and use of extreme degrading treatment including electrocution against a whole village, and the death of a schoolteacher after 13 days of intense torture it is clear that those who exercise power over detainees operate in an environment of impunity. We hope that the Foreign Minister will apply the Global Human Rights Sanctions to address this impunity and to prevent such horrific events from continuing to take place.
The cases are the 2019 Halfeti detentions case, where numerous Kurdish civilians were subjected to systematic torture including beating, sexual abuse and electrocution; the torture and unlawful killing of a teacher under arrest in 2016, who was acquitted of all charges against him posthumously; and the torture of a lawyer in 2019 who was explicitly informed by those administering the physical and psychological assaults on him that the motivation for these was because his, sometimes high profile, clients were not confessing and choosing to remain silent. All three files are supported by medical reports, reports by bar associations and audio-visual content.
TUHRAP aims at effective use of the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime to deter grave human rights violations in Turkey.
The submission provides the UK Government with an opportunity to demonstrate its dedication to the championing of a rules-based international order as underlined in the Global Britain vision. Likewise, it also provides the Turkish authorities with the opportunity to put a distance between themselves and the perpetrators of grave human rights violations.
A particularly important aim of the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations is to cause positive change through the use of sanctions. Turkey has previously provided an example of how change can be brought about through the use of sanctions. In this exampled the use of the US Magnitsky Acts brought real and immediate results, with American Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release in 2018, after two years in prison, after sanctions were applied agine the Minister of Interior and Minister of Justice of Turkey by the US Government.
Although these submissions do not target any political or diplomatic figure, the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, the organisation commissioning the submission, is hopeful that sanctions will lead to real and sustainable improvement in Turkey.
The UK government has already used the Sanctions Act against individuals from Russia to Myanmar, from Pakistan to Gambia. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reportedly said that “the sanctions send a clear message to human rights violators that the UK will hold them to account.”