Turkey is a Member State of the Council of Europe (COE) and of the United Nations (UN), and has human rights obligations at the regional and universal levels.
Regional: European System
As a Member of the COE, Turkey has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and is subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. Turkey has ratified the Revised European Social Charter, but has not authorized the European Committee of Social Rights to decide collective complaints against it. Its human rights policies and practices are also monitored by the COE Commissioner for Human Rights, who identifies gaps in human rights protection, conducts country visits, engages in dialogue with States, and prepares thematic reports and advice.
Individuals and groups have submitted complaints of human rights violations committed by Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights. For example, the Court held that Turkey violated an individual civilian’s rights to liberty and to a fair trial when he was not brought before a judge until seven days after being detained, was tried by a military judge, could not confidentially consult his lawyers, and did not have adequate access to the case file. See ECtHR, Öcalan v. Turkey [GC], no. 46221/99, ECHR 2005, Judgment of 12 May 2005. Additionally, the Court may grant interim measures to protect people in urgent situations of risk in Turkey.
As a State party to the Revised European Social Charter, Turkey must submit yearly reports to the European Committee of Social Rights on its implementation of the Charter’s provisions.
Turkey is a party to the following regional human rights treaties:
- European Convention on Human Rights and several of its protocols
- Revised European Social Charter
- COE Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
- COE Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
United Nations System
As a UN Member State, Turkey is subject to the oversight of various UN human rights bodies, including the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review and thematic special procedures. As a party to specific universal human rights treaties, Turkey’s policies and practices are monitored by UN treaty bodies. It has accepted the complaints procedure of four treaty bodies.
Turkey has ratified the following UN human rights treaties:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW)
Turkey has also ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aimed at abolishing the death penalty, and optional protocols to the CRC addressing children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. Turkey has a duty to submit State reports to the UN treaty body associated with each UN human rights treaty Turkey has ratified. These reports must be submitted on a periodic basis, and describe the steps Turkey has taken to implement the treaty provisions.
Turkey has also ratified optional protocols and made appropriate declarations allowing individuals to submit complaints against the State alleging violations of the ICCPR, CEDAW, CAT, and CRPD. Additionally, certain UN treaties contain inquiry procedures, which allow the UN treaty body to consider allegations of grave or systematic human rights violations. Turkey has accepted the inquiry procedures of the CAT and CEDAW.
On March 2001, Turkey extended a standing invitation to UN special procedures, which means that any such mandate holders are welcome to conduct visits in Turkey. For example, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions went on a mission to Turkey in 2012 and published a visit report in 2013.
For more information on Turkey’s engagement with UN human rights bodies, visit http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/TRIndex.aspx.
Last updated: February 2020