Three deaths in custody
SOURCE: HRFTHuman Rights Foundation of Turkey
translated by DTFDemocratic Turkey Forum
Since the changes to the Law on Duties and Competences of the Police that include authorities leading to arbitrary practices an increase in arbitrary detentions and allegations of torture and ill-treatment has been observed. It has resulted in three deaths in three different provinces of Turkey in the last two weeks.
- On 4 June Hakki Cangi reportedly hanged himself at Canakkale Police HQ, where he was interrogated on suspicion of theft.
- On 6 June E.T. reportedly hanged himself at Alsancak Police Station (Izmir) while being held on the same charges.
- On 14 June Mustafa Kükce was detained in Sarigazi (Istanbul) on suspicion of robbery. He was held at Dudullu and Acarlar Police Stations before he was put in Ümraniye Prison, where he lost his life on 15 June. A medical report certified that Kükce was tortured and his relatives took photographs showing traces of torture.
The fact that two of the deaths were declared to be "suicide" does not remove the suspicion of torture. It also does not change the fact that it is the responsibility and duty of the State to protect all rights and particularly the right to life of people who have been deprived of their liberty.
These deaths are an indication that the government has abandoned the policy of "zero tolerance against torture". The government should take the deaths in custody and the increase of torture and ill-treatment as a warning on the problems arising from more competences given to the police.
As one of the latest example of impunity the investigation into the death of Semsettin Yavuzkaplan at Pirinclik Gendarmerie Station (Diyarbakir) on 17.12.2006 resulted in a decision against prosecution. This increases our concern that the above mentioned cases might also end without punishment.
For an effective punishment it needs to collect all evidence on deaths in detention, the conditions, reasons and practices leading to the deaths according to the principles on prompt and independent investigations. An independent investigation has to be conducted according to the principles on correct and independent documentation and investigation of torture in medical and judicial aspects as set out in the Istanbul Protocol (2002) that has become a UN document. For an effective documentation and investigation of torture independent expert individuals and institutions have to be consulted.
With its expertise and experience in this field the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey is prepared to provide all kinds of contributions to make sure that the aim of punishing torture is achieved.