Torture in Turkey

A chilling report from Amnesty International charges that torture persists in Turkey despite the country’s adhesion to the European Convention on Human Rights and its full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The findings raise grave questions at a time when Turkish leaders speak of their interest in joining the European Community.

“By late 1988, eight years after the military coup, five years after a civilian government came to power and one year after its reelection, Amnesty International has not observed any fundamental change in the nature of human-rights abuses in Turkey,” the new report says. Investigation by Amnesty International indicates that only a handful of those responsible for torture, even in cases where death resulted, have been punished despite the fact that torture is outlawed by the Turkish constitution. A substantial number of the persons now on Death Row have testified that they were convicted solely on the basis of statements extracted under torture. Almost all of the 250,000 political prisoners detained since 1980 have been tortured, Amnesty reported.

Turkey is an important and loyal ally of the West, occupying a crucial strategic location. But nothing can excuse silence about the perpetuation of human-rights violations. The European Parliament has been speaking forthrightly about the need for reform. So should Washington.