UN rights experts call on Turkish authorities for immediate release of Dr. Fincanci
Five United Nations human rights experts urged the political administration and judiciary in Turkey to stop using counter-terrorism legislation to intimidate human rights defenders, and to immediately release Turkish Medical Association (TTB) chair Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, who was recently arrested over "terror propaganda" charges.
Dr. Fincanci, a forensics expert and a prominent human rights activist, was first targeted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan because she called for investigation into allegations concerning use of chemical weapons by the Turkish military in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), and consequently arrested an incarcerated a few days later.
“Dr. Fincanci’s arrest appears part of a deliberate pattern of applying counter-terrorism legislation to discredit human rights defenders and organizations and interrupt their vital human rights and medical work,” the UN experts said on Tuesday.
“We have documented many cases where counter-terrorism legislation and other criminal provisions have been used to harass, arrest, detain and convict civil society actors in Turkey, including Dr. Fincanci, on spurious grounds.”
Stressing that such attacks "aim to shrink safe civic space, undermine the rule of law, and encroach upon fundamental freedoms and democratic values," they said:
“Detention pending investigation beyond an initial period of interview is an exceptional measure and must be subject to judicial authorization as to its continuing lawfulness and proportionality (...)
Human rights defenders and medical practitioners' ability to speak truth to power must be protected. Their role in exposing human rights violations is one of the cornerstones of democratic societies, and otherwise exercising rights of freedom of expression and association, are protected rights under international human rights law."
The experts called upon the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Fincanci, and other civil society actors detained for politically motivated purposes, ensure their access to fundamental safeguards, and protect their mental and physical integrity, in and outside of detention.