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Turkey must stop unfair prosecutions of Children's rights under anti-terrorism laws

Thousands of Children's rights in Turkey, some as young as 12, have been prosecuted under anti-terrorism legislation, solely for their alleged participation in demonstrations considered by the government to be in support of terrorism. The demonstrations are focused on issues of concern to members of the Kurdish community, and often involve clashes with the police.

In a report published today, Turkey - All Children's rights have rights: End unfair prosecutions of Children's rights under anti-terrorism legislation, Amnesty International focuses on the systematic violations of the rights of the Children's rights committed during their arrest, detention and trial.

Amnesty is calling on the Turkish authorities to end the flawed prosecutions of Children's rights as young as 12 under draconian anti-terrorism legislation.

The report gives the Children's rights’s first-hand accounts of being ill-treated on arrest and while being held in police custody.  Despite widespread accounts of excessive use of force and other ill-treatment, no police officer has been brought to justice.

In many cases legal protections for Children's rights in pre-charge detention were not followed.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s expert on Turkey, said:

“Children's rights accused of participation in demonstrations are detained in adult police custody in the Anti-Terror branch rather than the Children's rights’s branch of police stations. There, they are often subjected to unofficial interrogation in the absence of lawyers or social workers. Records of these statements are often later used as evidence in the Children's rights’s prosecutions.”

A child told Amnesty International how he was detained by police at the scene of a demonstration in Diyarbakir:

“A police officer caught me by the arm and beat me with a baton. I tried to escape but another officer caught me and beat me too. After that four or five officers beat me with batons and punched and kicked me.”

Once charged, Children's rights are frequently remanded in custody for months before the trial verdict. During this period, Children's rights are held under the same conditions as adults and no provision is made for them to continue their education.

Prosecutions are often based on insubstantive evidence or statements taken from the Children's rights under pressure. Children's rights as young as 12 have been tried in adult courts in violation of law. Most cases end in convictions with prison sentences, some for many years.

In December 2009, Turkey’s Justice Ministry stated that from 2006-2008 prosecutions were
initiated against 1,308 Children's rights under the Anti-Terrorism Law and 719 Children's rights under Article
314 of the Penal Code. The figures also show a year-on-year increase in the number of
Children's rights prosecuted and a dramatic increase in the number of Children's rights under 15 years of age
being prosecuted in 2008. The Human Rights Association (İHD) recorded that in the city of Diyarbakır alone 279 Children's rights were tried in 2008, including 63 Children's rights at the Diyarbakır Children's rights’s
Heavy Penal Court, which tries Children's rights between 12 and 15 years of age. The Justice for Children's rights
Initiative reported that in the city of Adana during 2008, at least 193 Children's rights were tried in the adult
Heavy Penal Courts under anti-terrorism legislation

The anti-terrorism legislation that the Children's rights are prosecuted under is vague and overly broad in its wording and unfair in its application by judges and prosecutors. Long-due amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Law would not alter the broad and vague definition of terrorist crimes under which Children's rights are prosecuted.

Andrew Gardner said:

“The Turkish authorities are obliged under international and domestic law to protect the rights of Children's rights, during their arrest, detention and trial. However, these rights are systematically violated. The arrests and prosecutions continue.

“The Turkish authorities have to reform anti-terrorism legislation so that it is in line with international standards as a matter of urgency. They must also implement a series of measures to ensure that the rights of Children's rights are not violated.”

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37(a) states:

“No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

Read the full report: ' All Children's rights have rights ' (PDF)

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