A report prepared by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu that compiled data on the observance of basic human rights in Turkey in 2014 indicates that the country performed poorly.
The “Violations of Human Rights in 2014” report, prepared using official government statistics and the research of various civil society organizations, draws a dark picture of the year 2014 as far as fundamental rights and freedoms are concerned. According to the data, Turkey stands 154th out of 180 countries on an index of freedom of expression, ranks 137th of 197 countries when measuring the freedom of the press, and 137th out of 167 on assurance of civil freedoms.
The report says that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s repression of society is worse than during the regimes before and after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup which included a period of martial law. According to the CHP report, the AK Party government and its regime violated the rights of numerous groups, including teenagers demanding their rights, workers demanding their wages, women demanding their freedom, prisoners demanding more humane conditions, victims of crime demanding justice, and judges trying corruption cases. “In short, those who are not AK Party members. … The performance of the government in 2014 proves that AK Party government is trying to build a dictatorship regime,” the report said.
According to the statistics in the report, Turkey stands 89th on a democracy index of 167 countries in which only the first 26 countries are considered fully democratic countries. On freedom of press, Turkey is the only European country whose status was lowered from “partially free” to “not free” by US-based media watchdog Freedom House in 2014. Freedom House also said that Turkey’s rank had declined by 13 points as the government increased censorship, granted state agencies broad powers to block website content, and charged more people with crimes for what is expressed online, based on tracking results since 2009.
Tanrıkulu’s report, which includes figures from United Nations reports, among others, also examined gender-related issues in Turkey in the year 2014. According to the data, Turkey is ranked 125th of 142 countries on a gender inequality scale and stands last among the countries with medium and higher incomes. An index measuring the development of women’s human condition places Turkey 118th out of 187 countries. A women’s labor force participation rate index shows Turkey in 128th place among 142 countries, and a women’s educational attainment index ranks Turkey 105th out of 142 countries. The report also says that Turkey provides few opportunities for women to participate in economic life, as it stands at 132nd of 142 countries on that measure. Furthermore, violence against women in Turkey is double that of the United States and 10 times higher than some European countries.
Turkey was the third worst country with regard to the ill-treatment of journalists in 2014, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In the CHP report, Turkey was listed 78th of 198 countries for the risk of human rights violations. According to the CHP report, more than 60 journalists and columnists and their newspapers and TV stations faced criminal charges for their journalistic work about the government’s corruption and graft involvements. The report also stated that 559 journalists were dismissed from their jobs and 217 were exposed to violence while doing their job during the year. Many journalists were blacklisted, banned by judicial order from reporting in 30 cases in 2014 and several media institutions were banned from covering official government events by government accreditation bans.
In 2014, the risk of human rights violations worsened the most in Turkey, Ukraine and especially in Thailand. According to the “Monitoring of the Implementation of the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]” report, Turkey was the fifth worst country as far as the violation of human rights concerned. Tanrıkulu’s report shows Turkey 69th out of 187 countries on the human development index. Turkey is also the first in Europe and third in the world for most work accidents with deaths in 2014.
Turkey has become the lowest ranking country among the 30 members of The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the indices for financial and educational well-being of children, their health and security, and the poverty of children. Turkey also stands in 84th position among 221 countries with regard to infant mortality, lower than Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Jamaica, Albania and Algeria, among others.
According to the CHP report, there were 50 murders by unknown assailants in 2014 in Turkey. In addition, statistically 2.393 people died in work-related accidents and 21 people died during clashes in public protests, the report said.
New security package will take Turkey to emergency rule (OHAL) of 1990s
When asked about a security package to be discussed by a parliamentary commission this week that proposes giving the interior minister and governors the authority to declare a state of emergency in Turkey, Tanrıkulu said that this package will take Turkey to a period like the emergency rule of 1990s in Turkey’s Southeast due to violence. Tanrıkulu said that the package will give extraordinary powers to the governors of the 81 provinces, as was the case with governors during the OHAL period.
Along with other security-related measures that drew wide criticism, the new security package, which was announced in October by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, suggests an amendment that runs contrary to Article 120 of the Constitution. Article 120 states that the Cabinet may declare a state of emergency in one or more regions or throughout the country for a period not exceeding six months in a meeting chaired by the president and after consultation with the National Security Council (MGK).
It says a state of emergency may be declared in the event of serious indications of widespread acts of violence aimed at the destruction of the free democratic order established by the Constitution or of fundamental rights and freedoms, or in the event of a serious deterioration in public order because of acts of violence. The package gives the authority to declare a state of emergency in a province to governors and to the interior minister if the emergency rule is needed for more than one province.