Human Rights of Minorities in Turkey - Part 2

Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg and his delegation visited Turkey from 28 June to 3 July 2009. In the course of this visit the Commissioner held discussions on certain human rights issues, including minorities, with national and local authorities, international and non-governmental organizations. The Commissioner held also meetings with institutions and representatives of minority groups.

Click here to see the first part of the summary.

4. Minorities, freedom of religion and property rights: The Commissioner commends the readiness to dialogue with minority religious communities that the authorities demonstrated during his visit. He remains nonetheless concerned about the uneasiness and insecurity that seems to surround still religious minority groups. The Commissioner urges the authorities in particular to develop awareness-raising activities in order to alert the general public of the benefits of a multicultural society and to create an efficient, specialised body to combat, inter alia, racial and religious discrimination. Periodic, open and substantive consultations between the authorities and religious minority groups should be established, thus ensuring dialogue and solutions to major issues affecting religious minorities' human rights, such as the one concerning the recognition of the legal personality of religious minority institutions and communities established in the country. The Commissioner notes with interest the latest legislative measures concerning the protection of property rights of non-Muslim minority foundations. A number of shortcomings however are identified in the present Report, which call for the authorities' attention and necessitate further action in order to fully incorporate the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in the relevant legislation and practice.

5. Forced displacement in and from eastern and southeast Turkey: The Commissioner remains very concerned about the persistent humanitarian and human rights situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in and from the eastern and southeast Turkey, the majority of them being of Kurdish origin. The Commissioner recommends the prompt adoption of further measures that would accelerate and make more effective the reparation of the IDP victims, including the facilitation of exercise by IDPs of their right to voluntary return, voluntary resettlement or local integration. Whilst noting with satisfaction the Ministry of Interior's willingness to resolve the persistent, IDP-related problems, including the positive efforts made in the context of the IDP action plan in the Van province, the Commissioner stresses the need for the authorities to promote a comprehensive, national strategy that would include improvement of living and education-related conditions in IDP-source areas. The Commissioner also urges the authorities to examine the possibility of abolishing the system of village guards and to proceed immediately to the completion of clearance of the mined areas, especially those from or near which IDPs originate.

6. Certain issues concerning human rights of Roma: The Commissioner notes with concern the social marginalization of Roma in Turkey, their serious difficulties in enjoying effectively certain social and civil rights, such as those concerning adequate housing, employment, health care and social assistance, and violence by police and non-state actors. The Commissioner recommends that Turkey adopt and implement promptly a coherent, comprehensive and adequately resourced national and regional strategy with short- and long-term action plans for implementing policies that address legal and/or social discrimination against Roma, in accordance with the Council of Europe standards. The Commissioner remains very concerned about the dislocation of Roma people, including families and children, in various parts of Turkey, in particular in the context of urban renovation projects. Of special concern have been the house demolitions, evictions and dislocation of Roma from the historic area of Sulukule, Istanbul. The Commissioner urges national and local authorities to take immediately measures in order to effectively respect and protect cultural heritage, to review urban renovation legislation and practice and to ratify promptly the 2005 Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society. (Source: Council of Europe.)

Click here to review the full report and the Turkish authorities' comments.


Strasbourg - Council of europe

03 October 2009, Saturday

Thomas Hammarberg