"Human rights cannot be suspended in times of crisis”
In responding to a major crisis, there must be concerted efforts towards the promotion and protection of the human rights of everyone, Amnesty International said.
In a report published on Thursday over the rights violations in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the organization said in times of such crises, human rights cannot be suspended.
Slamming the Turkish government’s banning of Twitter and Tik Tok on Feb.8, as a “blow” to rescue efforts, Amnesty International pointed out that the people trapped under the earthquake debris were communicating via social media regarding their whereabouts in order to effect their own rescues.
“Any such ban was neither necessary nor proportionate to meet a legitimate state objective, which should have been to facilitate lifesaving technologies, not cut them off because authorities were offended by criticism about their handling of the crisis,” it said.
“Media provide news and other information in the public interest and must be permitted to operate freely, especially in times of crisis when such information could be lifesaving,” the organization said, adding that media in both Turkey and Syria are tightly controlled and journalists, including from foreign outlets and independent media outlets have struggled to operate in both countries.
“The Turkish government’s response to the catastrophe led to widespread criticism, including in the media, regarding the lack of and deficiencies in rescue efforts in the hours and first days after the earthquake,” it said, criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “publicly threatening to target those who criticized the authorities”.
The organization stated that in the first two days following the earthquake, Turkish state detained over 90 people, including journalists, some based solely on their social media posts.
Also criticizing the country for activating a whistleblower mechanism on “disinformation” via a mobile app, “While disinformation is a serious concern, a key way to prevent it is to ensure more media freedom,” Amnesty International said.
“The state is obligated to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of expression. Any restrictions on this right must be provided by law and be necessary and proportionate,” it said.
In its report titled “Türkiye/Syria Earthquakes: A Human Rights Approach to Crisis Response,” the organization published evaluations under the headlines of “Non-discrimination, Right to life, Right to information, Freedom of expression & media freedom, Arbitrary detention, Torture and other ill-treatment, Rights of displaced people, Treatment of refugees and migrants, Children’s rights, Violence against women and girls, Rights of LGBTI people, Business and human rights and Military operations”.