Amnesty International Criticizes Turkey for Slowing Reforms

LONDON (Anadolu/BIA)–According to a report released by London-based Amnesty International (AI)–the pace of reforms being implemented in Turkey has slowed down since it started negotiations to join the European Union (EU).

The report notes that–the attempt at bringing Turkey’s laws in line with international standards has slowed–while "torture and ill-treatment continue to be reported–[and] law enforcement officers continued to use excessive force."

Despite reforms of its Penal Code–Turkey still restricts basic rights and individuals expressing peaceful opposition still face prosecution and sanctions–reported AI.

Regarding torture and ill-treatment of detainees–the organization says that it continued to receive reports about such practices in 2005. "Those detained for ordinary crimes particularly at risk," reads the report.

In the report–AI also says that security forces continue to use excessive force during demonstrations–citing the death of four protestors during a demonstration in November as an example. It notes that investigations into these kinds of events was insufficient.

The report also criticizes Turkey’s restrictions on freedom of expression–such as Article 301–which makes it a punishable crime to insult "Turkishness," the state–or its institutions–and is "frequently applied arbitrarily to target a wide range of critical opinion."

The report also mentions the cancellation and postponement of last year’s conference in Istanbul about the Armenian genocide as another example of restriction on freedom of expression.

AI goes on to detail many more examples of human rights violations in Turkey. It says that human rights mechanisms in the country do not work effectively and that institutions charged with safeguarding these rights do not have the sufficient authority to investigate and report on any violations.

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