In a joint statement, the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUMDER), they Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) and the Amnesty International (AI) Turkey Branch criticized the draft bill of the Law on the Turkey Human Rights Institute (TŞHK).
The human rights organizations reminded that the draft law that was already debated in the previous legislation term and that insisting on the draft lacked any legitimacy. The organizations said that taking the draft on the agenda of the parliament again was "a big surprise" that lead to "disappointment and anger".
The joint statement also reiterated criticism and objections voiced several times by national and international human rights organizations during previous terms.
States violate human rights
The statement pointed to the existing obligation of forming a human rights institute within the framework of the Paris Principles regarding national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. Also the nature of such an institute was explained.
The joint statement underlined the necessity that a national human rights institute ought to be autonomous and independent of other state institutes and the political power.
"The need to form the process of establishing national human rights institutions is borne from a simple contradiction. 'As a matter of fact, a potential violator cannot be protective at the same time'. We know as a universal reality that the biggest violators of human rights are states and governments. Therefore, an institute to be established to prevent violations and protect rights must be absolutely independent from the administrative hierarchy. It has to be formed after an organization model that can be observed and controlled from outside".
The process of establishing a national human rights institute must be open to the contributions of non-governmental organizations that develop and protect human rights in the country, the five organizations claimed.
The human rights organizations pointed to several issues that reveal why the current Draft of the Law on a Turkey Human Rights Institute was unacceptable:
* The draft bill was prepared in contrary to international standards by disregarding the principles of participation, inclusiveness and transparency.
* The bill does not focus on individuals/citizens but is dominated by a state-centred approach.
* The Turkey Human Rights Institute as foreseen in the draft law was designed as a state organization just like existing other human rights institutes.
* Just like all other human rights institutes, the Turkey Human Rights Institute was designed as a mechanism of the presidency. In case the president would not want the institute it is almost impossible for it to work.
* The appointment of its members is done at the discretion of the government without specifying any requirements.
* The impartiality and independence of the institute members and most of all the financial independence of the institute are not being guaranteed by the draft law. The institute has to establish its own budget in order to maintain its independence and a significant portion of the budget should be taken from the general budget with the approval of the parliament.
* The draft bill subjects the structure and number of personnel to the Law on General Cadre and Procedures (No. 190). This has a negative effect on the institute's independency.
* Pluralism and participation of the board members has not been granted.
The five Turkish human rights organizations concluded that the "Turkey Human Rights Institute" as foreseen in the draft submitted to parliament will not be any different from the existing "problematic and dysfunctional official human rights boards and institutes". (YY)
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