Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Turkey have been subjected to judicial harassment, including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, prolonged arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment. In the aftermath of an attempted coup in July 2016, the environment for the work of HRDs deteriorated even further.
Through the wide-ranging use of State of Emergency laws, the Turkish government has significantly infringed on the rights to freedom of expression, media, assembly, and association, and has particularly restricted the liberty of those engaged in human rights work. These laws enable even further human rights violations, as HRDs often do not have the freedom to monitor the activities of the security forces, who have been granted extensive powers.
HRDs, journalists, cultural workers, and academics who promote and defend the rights of the Kurdish community and the rights of religious, cultural, and sexual minorities, or women and labour rights, continue to undergo various forms of reprisals, discrimination, and attacks. They are frequently falsely accused of ‘propaganda of terrorism,’ ‘insulting the Turkish President,’ and/or ‘revealing state secrets.’ Lawyers who provide legal assistance to HRDs and civil and political activists also face huge obstacles in performing their work and are at risk of arrest, detention, and prosecution.