TORTURE REPORT ON JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS IN TURKEY

TORTURE REPORT ON JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS IN TURKEY

TORTURE REPORT ON JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS IN TURKEY (May, 2022)

Prepared by: MUSTAFA DOĞAN

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION
I-Balance Sheet of Judicial Liquidations After 15th JULY, 2015
II- Torture Practices
III- Impunity of Perpetrators of Torture
IV- Judges and Prosecutors of Victims of Torture
CONCLUSION 

INTRODUCTION

Download in WORD format: TORTURE REPORT ON JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS IN TURKEY
Download in PDF format:TORTURE REPORT ON JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS IN TURKEY

 

On December 17th-25th, 2013, detentions, arrests, searches and seizures were carried out in Turkey by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, as part of a major corruption investigation involving Erdoğan and a number of AKP ministers. In the aftermath of this investigation, Erdoğan and the AKP preferred to move away from the law instead of demanding that the law be enforced and making sure that there is clarity between the black and white of issues. In this context, they have shaped the judiciary and the security bureaucracy to suit themselves and to completely control them. They have repeatedly amended the Constitution and laws. Each amendment has created crises in the legal system, the State system, and even among the mechanisms of society.  Since then, they, and the whole country, have been tossed about on the storms on the sea of lawlessness.

After the shadowy July 15th, 2016, coup attempt, which Erdoğan described as “God’s blessing”, the law was completely suspended. Human rights were destroyed. Arbitrary detentions, torture, abductions and disappearances became commonplace. Instead of applying the law, the judiciary and the law enforcement agencies acted according to the instructions and wishes of Erdoğan and the AKP. This issue has been repeatedly emphasized in those reports that have been published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Council of Europe Commissioners for Human Rights, the European Union Progress Reports, and in many other reports.

The judiciary has also suffered its own share of the chaos in the country. Although the judiciary has perpetratedunlawful acts, it has also been one of the victims. Those judges and prosecutors who preferred the law to Erdoğan’s and the AKP’s orders, were targeted. Members of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Council of State, as well as judges, prosecutors and reporters working in the Courts of First Instance, the military judiciary and the Court of Accounts, were dismissed from their jobs. The dismissals are still ongoing. The number of the members of the judiciary who have been dismissed has exceeded 5,000. All of these members of the judiciary have been charged with absurd ‘crimes’, such as membership or leadership of an armed terrorist organization, or aiding an armed terrorist organization, and thousands of those who have been investigated have been arrested. Some of them have been severely tortured. Dozens of them are still being held in solitary confinement, and the torture continues.

Representatives of the defense branch of the judiciary have also been affected by this persecution. Hundreds of lawyers have been arrested solely on the basis of their clients’ affiliations, thoughts and actions, and many of them are still in prison.

This report will present a few representative examples of the torture to which judges and prosecutors have been subjected. So far, the torture of civilians, security personnel, or of some bureaucrats, has been the subject of news or other reports. We, the CBJ Association, will, for the first time, report that even judges and prosecutors have been the targets of various acts of torture in the process that has followed the July 15th attempted coup.

In the report, the names and surnames of some of the male and female judges and prosecutors who have been the victims of torture are given as abbreviations. This is because some of these individuals are still in prison. The situation in Turkey has become so grave that disciplinary penalties can be imposed on these individuals on the grounds that they have openly shared their identities, and such discipline can take forms such as bans on visits and letters while they are in prison, or their lives in prison may be further aggravated. These unlawful and abusive practices target not only those who are in prison, but also their relatives outside. For example, if any of their relatives receive social assistance, these rights are taken away’ if they are working, there may be pressure for them  to be fired from their jobs, and they may be subjected to various arbitrary administrative sanctions and penalties.

Torture is one of the most serious crimes against humanity. Although the acts constituting the crime are committed on a person, the target is the whole of humanity. All of humanity must stand clearly and unequivocally against this crime. Otherwise, one day, torture will target them too. History is full of examples of this.

I-Balance Sheet of Judicial Liquidations After 15th JULY. 2015

Following the attempted coup on July 15th, 2016, a State of Emergency was declared in the country. The government was authorized to issue decrees that had the force of law. Thousands of people were dismissed from their jobs based on this authority. This situation was the same for judges and prosecutors. The provisions of the Constitution on the guarantee of the judiciary were ignored. Thousands of judges and prosecutors were arrested, and their assets were confiscated.

According to open sources, 4,579 judges and prosecutors were dismissed from the Constitutional Court, Council of State, Court of Cassation, and the First Instance judicial and administrative judiciaries, 118 of the come from the Court of Accounts, and 259 from the Military Judiciary[1] .

To date, the Turkish government has not made public the exact number of judges and prosecutors arrested. Nevertheless, a newspaper article, dated 02.07.2017, reported that 2,286 judges and prosecutors in the judicial and administrative judiciaries, 104 members of the Court of Cassation, 41 members of the Council of State and 2 members of the Constitutional Court, had, to that date, been arrested[2] .

II- Purpose and Methods of Torture

It is known that torture is still widespread in Turkey, and this was especially the case during the State of Emergency. There are even decisions by the Turkish Constitutional Court on this issue. In addition, in the Progress Reports of the European Union, in the Reports of the Ankara Bar Association, in the reports and documents of both the UN and the Council of Europe, and in the reports of organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, there are determinations that torture is being widely practiced in Turkey.

The main purpose of the torture meted out against judges and prosecutors is to force them to make statements, either against themselves or against others. Some of the statements that such torture aimed to obtain from members of the judiciary are as follows:

  • In the 2014 HSYK election: whether there were any statements or actions against the Platform for Unity in the Judiciary, which represents, and is supported by, Erdoğan and the AKP,
  • In the 2014 HSYK election: whether the independent candidates participating in the election were supported, other than those candidates who were supported by the Platform for Unity in the Judiciary, and whether such advice or suggestion was made in courthouses, private conversations or personal relationships,
  • Whether the person him/herself, or his/her colleagues, attend educational institutions, stay in dormitories, or subscribe to newspapers and magazines that are affiliated with the Gülen Movement (hereinafter referred to as the Hizmet Movement, since they identify themselves as the Gülen Movement), or give financial aid to associations that are affiliated with the Movement.
  • Whether s/he has an account in the bank that is called the Bank Asya, nd awhether he has deposited money into his account,

It is clearly seen that the information that the torture sought to obtain is not data that could prove any crime, that the actions in question do not themselves constitute a crime, and that these activities are aimed at the exercise of various rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws. However, after July 15th, members of the judiciary were subjected to material and moral torture, with the knowledge of, and even on the instructions of, their prosecutor and judge colleagues.

Examples of the torture practices to which judges and prosecutors have been subjected will be given below.

To Exhaust, To Irk, To Sicken

This method is that which is most widely applied, especially those who are accused of being in contact with, or affiliated with, the Hizmet Movement have certainly encountered this torture method. As we know, the possible detention period was increased to 30 days during the State of Emergency. Although there was no evidence against them, people were kept in detention for days under very harsh conditions, without their needs for nutrition and hygiene being met. As can be understood from the statements that are reflected in the official documents, below, some people were forced to stay in a dark cell, others in the sun on a carpet field, some in an indoor sports hall, some in narrow spaces (for example, 15-20 people in a place that is meant for 5 people). All these practices are aimed at breaking people’s wills. When the statements made by 100 people who were detained in this way, are read at the end of the detention process, the following picture will be seen:

  • That there was no evidence of a crime prior to the detention,
  • What were put forward as evidence were the confessors’ statements, which were also obtained through torture during long detentions, and had no legal evidentiary value. These were ordinary, lawful daily activities that had taken place years ago,

Beatings, Physical Violence

As has been reflected in both national and international reports, people were subjected to torture through beatings and physical violence during the State of Emergency. Much of the information, and the reports and documents which show that this method is still being used, has been shared with the public through those persons who are concerned, or through their representatives or various non-governmental organizations. In the following sections, official documents will show that judges and prosecutors are also subjected to torture in this way.

Insult

Detainees, including judges and prosecutors, were constantly insulted by the use of such words as “terrorist” and “traitor”.

Cursing, Swearing

The spouses and children of detainees, including judges and prosecutors, have been subjected to swearing and abusive remarks, using values that they consider to be sacred. These words have become a bit like chewing gum in the mouths of the police officers, and they have used them recklessly against everyone who is in custody.

Threats

Victims, including judges and prosecutors, who were detained under unlawful orders and who were kept in detention for long periods of time under inhumane conditions, were subjected to unlawful interrogations that used unlawful methods, and which were called interviews, which have no place in criminal legislation and practice and, during these procedures, those detained were subjected to severe insults and swearing, as well as to threats of various forms of harm that might be meted out to them and to their immediate environment. In these interviews, the detainees were threatened that they, their wives, daughters or mothers, would be raped, killed, maimed, taken to another place and tortured there, handed over to the torturers of institutions such as the TEM and the MIT; that their wives and daughters would be brought and stripped naked in front of them, then tortured and raped.

Handcuffed Release

Detainees were kept in handcuffs for days, and for 24 hours a day, even though they were behind bars or under control (even if these people were judges and prosecutors). This is a clear form of torture.

Failure to Meet Nutritional Needs

One of the most common practices suffered during detention is the deprivation of food and water. People who have been detained for long periods of time all have a common narrative: that they have lost an excessive amount of weight as a result of their detention, and that they have lost between3-5 and 10 kilograms.

Failure to Meet Hygiene Needs

The most natural consequence of being human is that the body needs regular cleaning. People in detention have not had these needs met. None of their needs, such as brushing their teeth, showering, bathing, cutting their nails, regularly taking off their dirty clothes and putting on clean ones, were met. There are thousands of people who have spent 30 days in detention in the same clothing. There is no distinction between the victims of this practice. Whether they are judges, prosecutors, district governors, teachers, police officers or soldiers, this makes no difference. This was used as a method of torture in order to make people both tired and fed up.

 Harsh Housing Conditions

This is one of the most troubling issues. Detention cells for 3-5 people were sometimes filled with 10-15, or even 20, people. People had to sleep on the floor and in shifts. They were kept in dirty, airless environments for 10, 15, 20 or even 30 days. When the files of these people were examined, it was determined that there was either no evidence against them, as of the date of their detention, or that they were detained for issues that could have been resolved with a 15–20-minute statement process. without the need for them to be detained. This method is aimed at breaking the will. After a while, some people could not stand it and reached the level of “bring whatever you want, write it down and I will sign it”. Even among these people, the number of those who, after a long and harsh detention process, made the following statements about the prison conditions they were arrested and sent to, is not small at all: “Being arrested was a salvation for us, we hardly threw our lives in prison.”

Playing loud propagandistic music

A common practice in many detention centers is to play loud propagandistic music. Songs and anthems that praise Erdoğan, declare opponents to be traitors, or which contain racist and fascist discourses, and words that sanctify the state and portray its opponents as being enemies, were played loudly and incessantly, both morning and night.

Lie

Another form of torture is lying. As is known, torture also has a psychological aspect. Lying and deception are among the forbidden methods of interrogation. People are not shown their files, on the grounds that they are confidential. However, they are told that there is too much evidence in their file, that they will never get out of prison, that they will not be able to get out of prison if they do not give information that can be used against either/both them and/or others, or the names of others. As of that date, there had, in fact, been no evidence in the files of these individuals.

Long Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement is undoubtedly one of the most severe forms of torture while someone is in detention and imprisoned. Many scientific reports have been published on the effect of solitary confinement on brain activity, which is equivalent to torture[3] .

Many judges and prosecutors, including women, are still in solitary confinement.

To give a concrete example that is based on my direct testimony as the author of this report, the former Chief Prosecutor, T.A., who was held in solitary confinement in prison, began to lose his ability to speak. When his condition became known, the prison administration, under pressure from his family, was forced to intervene and speech therapies were initiated.

III- The Impunity of Torture Perpetrators

One of the most problematic areas in the fight against torture is the investigation and punishment of crimes of torture and their perpetrators. This has long been problematic in Turkey. In the whole history of Turkey, hardly any public officials have been prosecuted for torture. The most important reason for this is that regulations protecting torturers were made during the coup periods, and similar characteristics were seen to have occurred in connection with the process following July 15th, 2016. Another reason is the reluctance of, and the callous attitudes to, the investigation of the torturers of judges and prosecutors .

At the stages of trials, torture victims described their experiences in detail, and they even provided the names and identities of the perpetrators of torture. Despite the facts that judges and prosecutors are primarily responsible for clarifying this issue and revealing the truth, that they have to act ex officio, and that it is a crime to act otherwise, according to Article 279 of the Turkish Penal Code, they either did not carry out any investigation and/or prosecution processes, or they did not continue them in an effective and result-oriented way .

Complaints filed by victims and their lawyers were either delayed or they were closed with decisions for non-prosecution being made.

Unfortunately, the same applies to those judges and prosecutors who are the victims of torture.

IV- Judges and Prosecutors who are Victims of Torture

1. Teoman Gökçe

Teoman Gökçe served as a member of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors between 2010 and 2014. He was elected as a member of the HSYK by the votes of those judges and prosecutors who were serving in the First Instance Court. In 2014, he ran again, but he did not win the election. After July 15th, 2016, he was first dismissed from his job, then detained and arrested. He is an arbitrary detainee, according to the precedent setting decisions of the European Court of Human Rights[4] and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention[5] . He was held in solitary confinement from the time of his arrest until the moment of his death. According to media reports, his petitions, while he was in prison, against his detention in solitary confinement and the charges against him were not processed, and his requests for release were rejected. Gökçe, who was allegedly subjected to physical torture, as well as psychological pressure and insults, was found dead in his cell on April 2nd, 2018.  The cause of death was announced as being a heart attack[6] . when he died, Gökçe had been held in solitary confinement in Sincan Penal Institution for 2 years.

2. Hüsamettin Uğur (Member of the Court of Cassation)

Hüsamettin Uğur, a member of the Court of Cassation, was arrested after 15 July 2016 on politically motivated charges, accused of being a member of an armed terrorist organization. He has been arbitrarily detained with a discriminatory approach according to the precedent-setting decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

After his arrest, Hüsamettin Uğur was placed in a solitary cell in Keskin Prison. He was kept in solitary confinement for the entirety of his imprisonment. On February 17, 2020, he was physically assaulted and beaten by the wardens. The guards threatened him saying “your corpse will come out of here”. He was given disciplinary punishment on the grounds of his words in a phone call with his daughter Nalan Dilara Uğur, who is a lawyer. Hüsamettin Uğur’s daughter Nalan Dilara Uğur posted on social media about the torture and ill-treatment Hüsamettin Uğur was subjected to. Upon these posts, the prison administration and guards threatened Hüsamettin Uğur by saying “your daughter should take care of herself”[7] .

Hüsamettin Uğur due to the torture and ill-treatment he has been subjected to, demanded his relocation to another prison facility. His daughter Nalan Dilara Uğur also campaigned for this on social media.  Despite this, a year later, on February 4, 2021, Hüsamettin Uğur was transferred to Afyon Closed Penal Institution. In this prison, he was placed again in solitary confinement. He faces a total isolation and is prevented from having contact to other inmates. Most of his deprivations of rights continued here as well.

Hüsamettin Uğur shared his experiences in an open letter made public on 06.11.2021[8] . In his letter, he stated that he was beaten and threatened while he was in Keskin Prison, that the prosecutor’s office arbitrarily kept his application pending for a long time, and that the investigation was hastily terminated with a decision of non-prosecution after the incident became public; that while he was in that prison and as of the date of the letter, he was kept in a small cell for 24 hours, that he was taken out for ventilation for only 2 hours a day, that it was not monitored whether his psychological condition was suitable for being kept in a single confinement in this way, and whether being kept in a cell like this constantly deteriorated his mental health; that even the roof of the ventilation was closed with a wire mesh; that the purpose of these practices is to force people to make statements against themselves and others;  that he was not allowed to have a private meeting with his lawyer while he was in detention status; that he could only meet with his lawyer in front of a camera and under the supervision of a guard; that he was not allowed to use the library for the first 7-8 months; that he was not allowed to participate in social and cultural activities; that he was not allowed to buy products sold to other prisoners in the prison canteen; that he was arbitrarily punished with disciplinary penalties for his lawful demands for rights;  open and closed visitation rights were restricted; newspaper and magazine subscriptions were arbitrarily terminated; phone calls, open and closed visitation rights, delivery of clothes and book parcels from visitors were suspended during the corona period; deprivation of rights in these matters continued for a long time and explained the violations of rights in detail.

In his letter, he said, “I cannot write more about other rights violations and problems in Afyon because I am worried that my letter will not be sent and may be confiscated on unlawful grounds.” In his letter, he actually hinted that he could not fully make his voice heard and that he was subjected to other rights violations.

International associations of judges and prosecutors such as MEDEL have also reacted to the torture, ill-treatment, and deprivation of rights that Hüsamettin Uğur has been subjected to[9] .

 3. Nesibe Özer,

 4. Ayşe Neşe Gül

Nesibe Özer was a member of the HSYK between 2010 and 2014. In the 2014 elections, she ran for re-election, despite all of the pressures from Erdoğan and the AKP. For this reason, she was targeted. After July 15th, 2016, she was dismissed from her job, detained and arrested, and she has been held in solitary confinement since her arrest.

Ayşe Neşe Gül was the Director of the Training Center at the Justice Academy. She was a very successful judge and administrator. Just like Nesibe Özer, she was a candidate in the 2014 HSYK elections. Despite all of the pressures, she did not withdraw her candidacy. On July 15th, 2016, she was dismissed from her job, detained and arrested. Since the day of her arrest, she has been in solitary .

 5. Female Judge S.P.

A female judge, S.P., is one of the female judges who was detained and tortured after July 15th, 2016. She was held alone in a detention center for days. Although she was in a cell, her handcuffs were not uncuffed. She was not given nutrition and water support. Her hygiene needs were not met. She was explicitly told that she was taken into custody to ensure that her husband surrendered and was subsequently arrested. She was handcuffed and taken around the courthouse where she was working and was almost exposed. The judge who made the arrest clearly stated that she would remain in prison until her husband arrived. Her husband is missing, and she is under arrest. Her children are left in the middle. Judge S.P. has been severely traumatized by what she has been through. Her psychological state has further deteriorated due to the medication she was given while in prison. Unable to endure the unjust and unlawful practices, material and moral tortures sto which she was subjected, she attempted suicide and was even hospitalized in a mental hospital. In this way, she was made to sign various statements while she as seriously ill.

She clearly described her experiences in Court, where she was heard as a witness. The following are the parts of the statement that she gave as a witness, in a court of law, concerning torture.

“I was kept in a detention room for 7 days, handcuffed and taken around the courthouse where I was working. I was questioned about why I did not rule in favor of the government, because of a decision I had made in accordance with the law. I was arrested by the interrogation judge saying ‘you are under arrest until your husband arrives’. I was sent to Sincan Women’s Closed Prison after an arrest warrant was issued against me. I was separated from my husband there, I did not know where my husband was. My child was left in the middle. I had been unjustly dismissed from my job. I was psychologically traumatized. I couldn’t stand still, I couldn’t do anything. When I told my family about my situation, I was already thinking about death. My family sent a fax to the prison saying that my condition was severe and that I had lost my judgment. The prison administration then gave me medication, that I did not know about, against my will. As a result of these drugs, I attempted to commit suicide. As a result of the attempted suicide, I was transferred from Ankara Numune Training and Research Hospital to Bakırköy Mental and Nervous Diseases Hospital. The Chief Public Prosecutor, who knew that I had attempted to commit suicide and had been transferred to the hospital, took advantage of the situation and took my statement. I was not myself. I told him about the events which I had heard about in the press. These events are absolutely not true. I identified whoever they showed me that day. If they had shown you to me on that day, or if I had worked with you somewhere before, or if I had known you from somewhere, I would have said something against you. I was completely unconscious, do you understand? Judge, this is all I have to say, and Ali Çalık, the Chief Prosecutor who took this statement, who knew that I had attempted to commit suicide, and who knew that I had been transferred to Bakırköy Mental and Nervous Diseases Hospital, took action according to this statement. He is fully responsible for this. I am not at fault either.”

To the question from the President of the Court, “So you are saying that you testified in this way just because you were depressed?” She replied in the form “Both because of my mental health deteriorated and torture, persecetion and inhuman intervention inflicted on me, I said everything they wanted to get rid of them.” President of the Court “Do you deny the statement you gave in the presence of your lawyer?”: “Although my lawyer knew that I was in that state, he said, ‘Mrs. Judge is unwell. She was transferred to Bakırköy. She attempted to commit suicide; she needs treatment.’ He should have put up a defense, but he did not. I don’t accept any statement … he knows it, my lawyer knows it. I am not a confessor; I did not benefit from effective remorse”.

To the question from the Presiding Judge “Weren’t you released as a confessor?” “If they hadn’t released me, those who took my statement and disclosed it to the press, knowing that I needed treatment in this way, seeing my condition, are criminals, I would never give a statement like this one, if I were in my right mind, because I am not that kind of person.”

 6. Muzaffer Bayram

Muzaffer Bayram served as the Secretary General of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors until February 28th, 2014.

Following theJuly 15th, 2016, attempted coup, Bayram, who was first suspended and then unlawfully dismissed from his position, was issued with, firstly, a detention warrand, and then with an arrest warrant, on charges of being involved in an attempted coup d’êtat and with membership of an armed terrorist organization, just like his other colleagues who had been dismissed. Believing that he would be subjected to unlawful practices, Bayram lived on the run in order to avoid arrest and, in April, 2017, he was arrested and sent to prison.

Bayram, who was in solitary confinement in Kırıkkale Keskin Closed Prison, suspiciously had two of his arms broken.

He was kept in solitary confinement, even though he had two broken arms and was unable to take care of himself[10] . He is still being held in solitary confinement.

7. Judge A.K.

Judge A. K. was detained after the attempted coup of July 15th, 2016 and was tortured at the Ankara Anti-Terror Branch.

In his testimony, given on 29.08.2016 before Ankara’s 5th Criminal Judge of the Peace, he described the torture to which he was subjected as follows

“I do not accept the charges against me. I and the other detainees were tortured during the 20 days of our detention. We had to sleep on a hard floor for 20 days, the lights were left on from morning to night. Loud music was played at night. We were not given the opportunity to shower. I was also slapped during my statement at the police station. More precisely, I was slapped during the so-called “interview”, before the statement was taken in the presence of the defense counsel.”

8. Judge A.B.

Judge A.B. was detained on July 21st, 2016 and was tortured at the Ankara Anti-Terror Branch.

He described some of the tortures to which he was subjected during the hearing at the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court on 04.10.2017, as follows

“I was detained at the end of working hours on Thursday, July 21st, 2016. And From that date until July 24th, 2016, the date of my arrest, I was detained, firstly in the Capital Sports Hall of the Turkish Volleyball Federation, and then in a so-called tent inside the Sincan Prison Campus. This was reported in several newspapers: I followed it from the newspapers that came into the prison, and you must have followed it as well. During my detention, the handcuffs were not removed, even when I went to the toilet at night. No bedding material was given to me. For 24 hours, those lights were never turned off. On July 22nd and 23rd, 2 people were given 1 bread roll[11] in the morning and evening. On July 15th, and on the following days, I could not accept this unlawful intervention by the law enforcement officers who were trying to solve these violent events that my country has experienced. For this reason, I filed a complaint against the personnel who were responsible for the torture and ill-treatment to which I was subjected during my detention, and the investigation into my complaint is still ongoing at the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.”

9. Judge A. S. Y.

Judge A.S.Y. described some of the torture to which he was subjected during the hearing at the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court on 04.10.2017, as follows

“Following our detention, I was detained in the Anıttepe campus of the Ankara KOM Department for 21 days, without shower facilities and handcuffed for 24 hours a day.”

10. Judge A.A.

Judge A.A. described some of the torture to which he was subjected during the hearing at the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court on 04.10.2017, as follows

“I was handcuffed, with my hands behind my back, after being taken into custody for no reason at all, I was subjected to unprecedented treatment, I was beaten by the police officers, I was insulted, and I can assure you that we encountered many more negative situations, too many to count, and I am aware that this is something which has also been carried out against many judges and prosecutors. From this point of view, I felt the need to express this, because unlawful and undignified treatment and criminal acts during the interrogation process were not limited to these, but people were also forced to become slanderers, in the name of confession, by making unlawful promises.”

11. Judge A.Ç.

Judge A.Ç., in his testimony, which was taken at the hearing that was held at the 16th High Criminal Court on 05.10.2017, stated, “I was subjected to torture in detention. I was threatened with death.

12. Judge A.K.

Judge A.K., in his testimony, which was taken at the hearing that was held at the 16th High Criminal Court on 05.10.2017, described in detail the torture practices he experienced. While he was on trial without arrest, he was arrested by the Court because he gave information about torture and made statements contrary to those that the  the Court requested.

Here is what Judge A.K. said in Court about the torture practices to which he was subjected.

“On August 9th, 2016, I was detained by the police officers of the KOM Department. During my detention, I was left in the open carpet field inside the KOM Department, in the heat of August and under the burning sun, and most of my detention was spent under those conditions. On August 18th, 2016, XXXX, who was my roommate, was taken to the building next to the open carpet field to have his statement taken. However, as he later told me, he was interrogated, during what was called an “interview”, all day long. He was beaten and made to accept certain things or was forced to make statements. Of course, his lawyer was not present during all of this. On August 19th, 2016, the day after XXXX was supposedly taken to give his statement, I was also taken to the building next to the astroturf field where we were detained in order to give my statement, and I was also interrogated during a, so-called, “interview”, on August 19th, August 20th and August 22nd. On August 19th, I was taken to givemy, so-called, statement … I was handcuffed and made to sit on the concrete floor and was beaten many times on that day. I was beaten with fist-like slaps. I was grabbed by the ears many times, and was made to crawl on the floor. I was held in coercive positions for hours, and on many occasions, until I could no longer feel my feet and legs. I was subjected to insults and swearing for 4 days, and I experienced this, and similar things, all day long, on August 20th, and again on August 22nd, until it was almost evening. I was interrogated during the, so-called, interview, from the beginning of working hours from the morning until midnight. I was kept in a dark room with no windows on the ground floor of the relevant building, in order to sleep at night…I was also subjected to psychological torture, insults and threats by … many times. On August 22nd, towards the evening hours, they threatened, pressured and threatened me many times, saying that if I did not accept what they wanted, they would hand me over to the Ankara Anti-Terror Branch, that I would be made miserable there, and that I would be introduced to Palestinian hangers and used until the end of my detention period, and that I could not even imagine what I would go through there. The police officer … said: “… We know that your brother and his wife are public servants. Our managers and the prosecutors conducting the investigation are on very good terms, it would be enough for us to say that his brother and his wife are FETÖ members. We can immediately issue an arrest warrant for both of them, bring them here and keep them in custody for as long as we can, and we will make them go through 10 times what you are going through.  As far as I remember, I gave the names and surnames of the superiors of the many police officers who ill-treated, tortured, pressured, and threatened me for days, and the offices in which they worked. However, I am not filing a complaint against these people for now, since I know that my possible complaint will result in non-prosecution. ”

 13. Prosecutor R.A.

Prosecutor R.A., in his testimony at the 16th High Criminal Court on 10.10.2017, described the torture practices to which he was subjected, as follows

“I would like to mention some issues in my KOM statement. Mr. President, I was detained on August 9th, 2016, and I was kept in custody until August 24th, 2016. I was arrested on August 24th, 2016. During my detention, I was exposed to extreme heat during the day, and to cold at night, for 15 days. I was constantly handcuffed, sleep deprived and fed with very limited food. I gave my statement under threat, torture and pressure.”

14. Judge M.S.Ö.

Judge M.S.Ö., in his testimony, given at the 16th High Criminal Court on 10.10.2017, described the torture practices to which he was subjected, as follows

“There is an indoor sports hall at Gazi University, belonging to the Volleyball Federation, we were detained there, then we were brought to a tent in Sincan. Here, we were handcuffed with our hands behind our backs. We were subjected to torture and ill-treatment. 39 military judges were subjected to the same treatment as me. When I was in detention, while I was in the torture position, with the handcuffs behind my back, a police chief, whose name I give as Tahir, I don’t know if it was his code name, or whatever, described himself as the Grim Reaper of the place. He came and asked me if I had stolen the questions. I told him that there was no such thing. He kicked me. He kicked me very violently. He asked me the same question again. I told him again that I hadn’t stolen them. He repeated it again, he repeated it several times. I mean, I didn’t make sense at that moment, because at that moment I was detained only because my name was on the martial law assignment list. There was no information or allegation in the file regarding the exam questions. However, despite this, I was subjected to this question by the Police Chief and was beaten afterwards. I filed a criminal complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for torture and ill-treatment. The Public Prosecutor gave a decision for non-prosecution. I showed dozens of witnesses, I explained the events in detail, but he decided not to prosecute. Then I appealed, and my decision was rejected without any justification. I made an individual application to the Constitutional Court. I still don’t know what happened, and I think the lawyer witnessed this on the day that my statement was taken and my interrogation was held. I hadn’t eaten a bite of food for the last 24 hours, I was shaking from hunger, and my hands and feet were shaking, and my statement was taken and my interrogation was held in this exhausted and miserable state. Then I was arrested. There are 21-22 of us in a ward for 8 people. For this reason, some of us sleep on the floor, and our most basic human needs are significantly restricted.”

15. Judge T.Ö.

In his testimony, taken on 06.10.2017 at the Ankara 16 Assize Court, Judge T.Ö. described the torture practices to which he was subjected, as follows

“I was suspended from duty on July 21st, 2016, moreover, I was taken into custody when I had been married for 25 days. I was kept handcuffed on a carpet field for 16 days, under conditions that can be described as systematic torture.”

 16. Judge S.Ö.

Judge S.Ö. described the torture practices to which he was subjected during the hearing at the Ankara 16 Assize Court, on 6.10.2017, as follows:

“I was detained on August 9th, 2016 … and arrested on August 23rd. During these 14 days of detention, I was kept in handcuffs at all times, including while eating and lying down, and my handcuffs were not uncuffed, even during my police statement. My CMK lawyer is also a witness to this. If he remembers, even his objection was not taken into consideration. Some of my testimony was taken in an environment which was called an interview, at which no lawyer was present. At this stage, I was subjected to physical intervention by the police, and I was also threatened with torture such as being taken to the basement of TEM and subjected to electric shocks, and threatened with the detention of my family members, as well as being subjected to various insults. Although my statement was taken on the seventh day after I was detained, I was kept in unfavorable conditions for seven more days, and then I was referred to the courthouse and arrested. Afterwards, I was taken to Sincan L Type Prison No. 1. 45 people were in a ward for 14 people for 9 months. At the end of the 9 months, I was transferred to Keskin T Type Prison, without any justification, and 24 people had to stay in wards for 7 people for about 5 months.”

17. Candidate Judge M.F.Ö.

In his testimony, which was taken at the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court on 18.12.2017, M.F.Ö. described the practices of torture to which he was subjected, as follows

“I was detained on July 21st. at the end of my working day, and I was subjected to various forms of torture and ill-treatment while in detention…. Between July 21st and 24th, 2016, I was subjected to ill-treatment amounting to torture, while in detention, and I perhaps lost my entire future during this process,”

 18. Judge M.A.

M.A. described the torture practices to which he was subjected during the hearing at the Ankara 16 Assize Court on 17.10.2017, as follows:

“First of all, I would like to tell [the Court] what I went through in detention. I was handcuffed for 24 hours; I was made to wait under the sun on the astroturf football field they didn’t let me sleep by keeping on the lights in the gym. I was not allowed to take a shower, I took medication almost every day, because of a headache. When I was called to testify, I was interviewed, as they called it. I was interrogated for about three, three and a half hours, without a lawyer. When I entered the room, there were two policemen. They told me to sit down. I sat on the chair, and he said ‘Mr. M., welcome’ and then the first thing he said was ‘my elders taught me so many types of torture that I will use them all on you without leaving any trace’. He left his gun on the table. I continued to be interrogated despite the headache and sleeplessness. They threatened me with my brother, because he is a contracted soldier. They said they would take him and bring him here too.  At one point, the person who took my statement went to hit me, but when the doctor told him that I had been hospitalized in Ankara GATA for five days, due to a large intestine disorder, and that I should stay away from any kind of beating and force, he stopped hitting me. I had a colonoscopy appointment in September, 2016. The doctor said we would see if there was the beginning of cancer. For thirteen months, I have been living without knowing what is in my large intestine. During my testimony, I was not subjected to any beating and force, but I was subjected to mental exhaustion, pressure, threats and harassment. Then my lawyer came. Even with the lawyer, they did not remove the handcuffs during my statement. At one point I wanted to go to the restroom, but they didn’t let me go. My testimony lasted about six to six and a half hours. After my testimony was over, I was taken to the gymnasium with about 100-120 people, including other professional groups. In the gymnasium, they prevented us from sleeping by playing music and keeping all the lights on. Eleven days later, when we were referred to the prosecutor’s office, I sat on the concrete floor in the corridor of the prosecutor’s office for about nine hours. There were the families of other friends in the prosecutor’s office, and when I looked in that direction, one of the police officers asked me: ‘what are you looking at? Who are you signaling to?’ and we had an argument. I said ‘I have no one in that direction, there is no one from my family’. Then the argument ended. Later, when I looked in the direction of the families’ lawyers again because my lawyer didn’t show up, we had another argument with the police officer, and he said to me, “With all due respect, ‘I’m going to fuck you up, I’m going to job you’.

 19. Judge A.P.

A.P., in her testimony, which was given at the Ankara 16 High Criminal Court hearing on 17.10.2017, described the torture to which she and her husband were subjected, as follows:

“We were handed over to the police team, who were not authorized to take any judicial action against us, at around 21:30 on 20th July, 2016. I was subjected to material and moral torture throughout the detention period, and no judicial action was taken against me. I will not describe what I went through in detention here, but the psychological effects of what I went through are still continuing, even though 15 months have passed.  On July 25th, 2016, I was unlawfully arrested and locked up in prison. I have remained here, in a ward for ten people, with about three times the number of people for which it had the capacity. I have been under arrest for about 15 months. During the four-day detention period, I was not allowed to contact my family, and my family was not allowed to receive news from me, and I was not allowed to receive news from my family. During this period, my wife became ill, due to the lack of news from me, and the media coverage of photographs and video recordings which showed that detainees were severely tortured. She had a panic attack, and she was treated several times in the hospital’s emergency room. Due to the fear and trauma she experienced, her body resistance decreased and her sleep patterns were disturbed. Therefore, she started to receive psychiatric treatment. She started taking antidepressants, and sleep and vitamin medications. During the critical phase of her illness, she was unlawfully detained by the Ankara TEM branch teams. She was detained for three days without any judicial proceedings. During her detention, she was subjected to insults and threats amounting to torture. Although she was released by the prosecutor’s office after the detention process, her illness became increasingly severe, due to the traumas she experienced, one after another. She lost weight suddenly and excessively, dropping to 33 kilograms but, with medication, she was able to sleep and stand, and came back from the brink of death. After a while, while there was an ongoing investigation against her by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, an investigation for the same offense was initiated by the Tokat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, even though it was unauthorized, and in this context, she was detained by the TEM branch teams and detained for two days. She was subjected to the same treatment there, and her ailments are still continuing. ”

 

V. CONCLUSION

In order for acts of torture, which are indisputably degrading for any person, and which are directed against people’s material and moral existence and leave permanent scars on the victims, to be considered to be a punishable crime, and a damnable act in the eyes of society, or before history, the identity, belonging, belief, or profession of the victim does not matter. However, it is indisputable that the widespread, systematic and planned acts of torture that have been committed against members of the judiciary contain important data and messages for making sense of the developments, transformations and events in post-July 15th Turkey.

When a perpetrator of torture sees that an environment has been created which will enable him/her to torture even the members of the judiciary, and realizes that this is encouraged, knowing that s/he will not be punished, it will make him/her more dangerous to others, and will provide a psychological environment for the reckless application of torture. The fact that hundreds of judges and prosecutors have been tortured has had, and continues to have, painful consequences, in this respect, means thatTorture has almost become an unwritten method for investigation and the obtaining of evidence.

The fact that a psychological, political and judicial environment suitable for the torture of hundreds of judges and prosecutors has been created is very important data, in terms of showing what kind of danger people living in Turkey face, in terms of fundamental rights and freedoms.

These are not limited to the torture and the ill-treatment that are recorded in the Court Minutes, which the interlocutors have recorded by braving the risks of severe punishment, arrest or prolonged detention, as well as the possibility that they and their relatives may be subjected to other unlawful acts. It is a bitter reality, in Turkey, that hundreds of the 5,000 members of the judiciary who have been dismissed and investigated, most of whom have been detained, have been subjected to torture. The exact numbers will only be available after the victims are heard and their files are examined.

The fact that members of the judiciary can be subjected to severe material and moral torture by security officers, of whom, the day before, they were the judicial police officers, is an important phenomenon that should be studied by psychologists and sociologists, as well as by criminal lawyers. To claim that the administrative superiors and even the Chief Public Prosecutor, prosecutors, and Criminal Judges of the Peace, who conduct the investigation, are not among the direct or indirect perpetrators of the acts of torture that are caused by law enforcement officers with little or no legal knowledge and awareness, means not knowing how crimes of torture are committed.

As has been clearly reflected in the statements of the judicial torture victims, the judges and prosecutors were kept in detention under the pretext of unlawful/fictitious investigations, in crowded areas, without basic necessities, exposed to extreme heat and cold, constantly burning lights and propagandistic music, They have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment both before and during the forbidden interrogations, the so-called interviews, by being handcuffed, with their hands behind their backs, and beaten during interrogations, being subjected to severe insults, swearing, and threats against them and their families, being paraded in the corridors of courthouses with their hands handcuffed, like a criminal, being housed in crowded wards in prisons, or being put in solitary cells.

It should be particularly noted that the acts of torture to which members of the judiciary are subjected are known about by the Chief Prosecutor and those prosecutors who are conducting the investigation. The fact that there is a Chief Prosecutor’s Office, and prosecutors who condone or instruct the torture and ill-treatment of their own colleagues, or who watch the process without taking any action, should concern and mobilize every person and group living in Turkey.

We see it as an important historical responsibility to report on the torture and ill-treatment that is experienced by members of the judiciary, who have constitutional guarantees and are expected to make torturers more careful and uneasy, and to present to them the information of individuals, non-governmental organizations and political parties, who will fight against torture.

[1] https://tr.solidaritywithothers.com/dismissal-by-decree-laws-and-hsk , Mass Dismissals of Judges and Prosecutors in Post-Coup Turkey – Turkey Tribunal , https://t24.com.tr/haber/iste-tskdan-ihrac-edilen-109-askeri-hakimin-tam-listesi,364969

[2] https://www.trthaber.com/haber/gundem/fetoden-kac-kisi-tutuklandi-iste-bilanco-291583.html

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitary_confinement#cite_note-Grassian2006-33, https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://en.wikipedia.org/&httpsredir=1&article=1362&context=law_journal_law_policy

[4] The decision of the European Court of Human Rights dated April 16, 2019, and numbered 12778/17 B. Alparslan Altan, and the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, dated 03.03.2020 and numbered 66448/17 B. Hakan Baş, are precedent-setting decisions showing the arbitrary detention of Teoman Gökçe.

[5] UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Resolution A/HRC/WGAD/2018/78 on Hamza Yaman.

[6] Teoman Gokce – Finished Lives

[7] https://twitter.com/nalandilora/status/1282352336283762688?s=20&t=45_SYY5gkDnmuIfGFjvRBg

[8] Nalan Dilara Uğur on Twitter: “This is the open letter of my father Hüsamettin Uğur, a former member of the Court of Cassation, who has been held “captive” in prison for 5.5 years and subjected to systematic torture, to all institutions and organizations concerned with human rights, to everyone who says “I am human” @adalet_bakanlik @TCYargitay https://t.co/VQZ8WUNHOs” / Twitter, https://kronos35.news/tr/eski-yargitay-uyesi-husamettin-ugur-insanim-diyen-herkese-acik-mektup/ , Open letter to all institutions and organizations concerned with human rights, to everyone who says “I am human” ….pdf – Google Drive

[9] MEDEL on Twitter: “In times where peace and justice are celebrated, our solidarity to the Turkish magistrates who face injustice. A letter by Hüsamettin UĞUR, Court of Cassation judge, in jail for 5.5 years: “this petition (open letter) has been written in order to ensure injustice is registered”. https://t.co/MZrROcX48H” / Twitter

[10] http://www.haberdar.com/gundem/eski-hsyk-genel-sekreteri-nin-iki-kolu-kirilip-tek-kisilik-hucreye-konuldu-h48056.html

[11] Small bread, also known as “Brötchen”, in German: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_roll

Related post

HAAK Haluk Tortum Decision

HAAK Haluk Tortum Decision

Judge HALUK TORTUM's request was examined by the CBJ Association HAAK Commission, and the legality of the decisions taken during the…
HAAK Yusuf Bilge Tunç (Enforced Disappearance) Decision

HAAK Yusuf Bilge Tunç (Enforced Disappearance) Decision

In this decision, the deficiencies in the investigation process initiated by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office regarding the enforced disappearance…