Dom Research Center   News Clippings: Turkey


Turks told to uphold minorities' rights

Kathimerini, www.ekathimerini.com; Feb 16, 2005

STRASBOURG (AFP) - A leading European human rights watchdog yesterday called on Turkey to step up reforms to protect minorities, saying Kurds, Gypsies and other groups continued to suffer discrimination and mistreatment.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) said that, despite reforms already implemented by the Turkish government, “there are still some gaps” in legislation.

The organization, an independent human rights monitoring body formed by the 46-nation Council of Europe, urged Turkey to strengthen constitutional, civil, criminal and administrative safeguards to combat racism and discrimination.

One of its recommendations was the creation of a national agency to combat racism, partly to monitor what was being done and what was needed and partly to raise awareness of the problem.

In other recommendations, the ECRI highlighted a “need to reinforce respect for the rights of immigrants, irrespective of their legal status, asylum seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking in human beings.” The body also called for action to resolve problems it said were facing the Kurds, especially those displaced within the country, as well as the Roma (Gypsies) and minority religious groups.

“There has been some progress as regards freedom of expression, particularly in languages other than Turkish, freedom of assembly and freedom of association for members of ethnic and religious minority groups. ” However, it went on to list areas where there were still flaws.

Religious freedom should be improved, notably by removing the reference to religion on identity cards and abolishing compulsory religious education in schools, it urged.

“Although progress has been made in the fight against torture and impunity, some members of minority groups, in particular Kurds and immigrants, are allegedly subjected to ill-treatment by law-enforcement officials, ” it went on.

“There is still no national specialized body to combat racism and intolerance.”

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