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UK must reverse decision to leave Turkey off human rights watchlist

The UK government must reverse its decision to leave Turkey off its watchlist of countries of human rights concern, Amnesty International said today, after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office set out a response to its omission yesterday.

The FCO published its annual Human Rights and Democracy report in July, but despite recommendations from the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Turkey was not included in its list of Human Rights Priority Countries. In yesterday’s response, published along with statements on other recommendations regarding Turkey from the committee, the government said it would “continue to monitor the human rights situation in Turkey” but failed to give more detail on why the country had been omitted from the list. The UK government is required to report publicly on its efforts to halt the decline of human rights in countries included in the list.

Since the attempted coup in July last year, a wide-ranging crackdown by the Turkish authorities has seen criminal proceedings opened against 150,000 people, while 50,000 have been detained – including two leading Amnesty Turkey figures. More than 100,000 public sector workers, including a quarter of the judiciary, have been arbitrarily dismissed from their jobs, while nearly 200 media outlets have been shut down and over 140 journalists remanded in custody.

İdil Eser, Director of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested on 5 July with nine other human rights activists and has been in detention ever since. Taner Kiliç, Amnesty Turkey's Chair, has been detained since 6 June. They have been jailed on false allegations that they are involved with “terrorist organisations”. Many other human right activists in Turkey are either detained or banned from travel as they await charges.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“The lives of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people have been turned upside down in this crackdown. My colleagues Idil Eser and Taner Kilic are in their number, detained simply for doing their job defending human rights.

“The UK government has rightly raised these issues with Turkey, so it’s clearly concerned about the deterioration of human rights in the country. It should put Turkey on its Human Rights Priority Country list and report on its efforts to bring about an end to the crackdown as a matter of urgency.”

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