This week, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a landmark decision against eleven Turkish officials in the case of Engin Çeber, who was tortured to death while in custody in 2008. [See here for a video Amnesty produced to highlight the case and here for a blog on the case written earlier this year].
Amnesty International issued a statement today welcoming this important verdict and noting this decision “shows that the judiciary in Turkey can be effective in combating the impunity for torture enjoyed by state officials.”
At the same time, Amnesty notes that this case is a landmark precisely because courts so seldom hold officials to account. This, certainly, has been the case in the wake of the massive police abuse during the Gezi Protests.
Amnesty notes that “successful prosecutions for torture and other ill-treatment remain extremely rare in Turkey”
The Turkish authorities must ensure that the recent abusive force by police during the Gezi Park protests which resulted in at least three deaths and scores of injuries are brought to justice. Initial indications are not promising with characteristic delays, loss of evidence and obstructions by police hampering investigations.
The flawed investigations into Gezi Park protest related abuses underline the need for the Turkish authorities to establish a truly effective and independent police complaints mechanism.