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UN Rapporteurs Warn: ‘Yes’ will exacerbate the existing major violations of social and cultural rights in Turkey

By Ela Gonca İzmirli

 

The United Nations in a statement warned Turkey against expanding the powers of the Presidency ahead of the referendum to amend the Constitution on April 16th.

In a published statement by the UN’s human rights rapporteurs, the experts specialized in human rights, freedom of speech and assembly and education noted that the extension of the powers of the President through Constitutional amendments might be used in ways “that exacerbate the existing major violations of economic, social and cultural rights.”

The UN statement stated that the July 15th Coup attempt was used as an excuse “in an especially problematic way” with regards to the rights to education. They reported that thousands of schools and fifteen universities were closed in the process.  Mentioning the mistreatment of dismissed public servants without due process, the report concluded that “the closure of some 200 media outlets has not only caused thousands of journalists to lose their jobs and livelihoods but has also undermined the possibility of an informed debate over the referendum proposals.

The statement referring to the “arbitrary and sweeping nature of the emergency decrees issued since July 2016” expressed the rapporteurs’ concern that these additional authorities might increase the violations in economic, social and cultural rights.

The rapporteurs, in the statement, explained that they saw no attempt to respect the fundamental rights of citizens in Turkey and noted that among other things the changes in the Constitution would “empower the President alone to declare future states of emergency and to determine the measures to be taken.”

It was also stated that the July 15th Coup attempt was used as an excuse for closing thousands of schools and fifteen universities and the mistreatment of dismissed public servants without due process. Closure of “some 200 media outlets” according to the report undermined the freedom of speech and the “possibility of an informed debate over the referendum proposals.”

The UN experts: Mr. Philip Alston, Mr. David Kaye, Mr. Maina Kiai, and Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry

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