Amnesty urges Turkey to stop unfair
prosecutions of children under anti-terrorism laws
Turkey must stop unfair prosecutions of children
under anti-terrorism laws
No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty
unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or
imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with
the law and shall be used only as a measure of last
resort and for the shortest appropriate period of
time. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish
authorities to end the flawed prosecutions of
children as young as 12 under draconian
In a report published today, Turkey: All children
have rights: End unfair prosecutions of children
under anti-terrorism legislation, the organization
focuses on the systematic violations of the rights
of the children committed during their arrest,
detention and trial.
Despite many accounts of excessive use of force, no
police officer has been punished. DIHA photo
Thousands of children in
Turkey, some as young as 12, have been prosecuted
under anti-terrorism legislation, solely for their
alleged participation in demonstrations considered
by the government to be in support of terrorism. The
demonstrations are focused on issues of concern to
members of the Kurdish community, and often involve
clashes with the police.
The report gives the children's first-hand accounts
of being ill-treated on arrest and while being held
in police custody. Despite widespread accounts of
excessive use of force and other ill-treatment, no
police officer has been brought to justice.
In many cases legal protections for children in
pre-charge detention were not followed.
"Children accused of participation in demonstrations
are detained in adult police custody in the
Anti-Terror branch rather than the Children's branch
of police stations. There,www.ekurd.netthey
are often subjected to unofficial interrogation in
the absence of lawyers or social workers. Records of
these statements are often later used as evidence in
the children's prosecutions," said Andrew Gardner,
Amnesty International's expert on Turkey.
A child told Amnesty International how he was
detained by police at the scene of a demonstration
"A police officer caught me by the arm and beat me
with a baton. I tried to escape but another officer
caught me and beat me too. After that four or five
officers beat me with batons and punched and kicked
Once charged, children are frequently remanded in
custody for months before the trial verdict. During
this period, children are held under the same
conditions as adults and no provision is made for
them to continue their education.
Prosecutions are often based on insubstantive
evidence or statements taken from the children under
pressure. Children as young as 12 have been tried in
adult courts in violation of law. Most cases end in
convictions with prison sentences, some for many
The anti-terrorism legislation that the children are
prosecuted under is vague and overly broad in its
wording and unfair in its application by judges and
prosecutors. Long due amendments to the
Anti-Terrorism Law would not alter the broad and
vague definition of terrorist crimes under which
children are prosecuted.
"The Turkish authorities are obliged under
international and domestic law to protect the rights
of children, during their arrest, detention and
trial. However, these rights are systematically
violated. The arrests and prosecutions continue,"
Andrew Gardner said.
"The Turkish authorities have to reform
anti-terrorism legislation so that it is in line
with international standards as a matter of urgency.
They must also implement a series of measures to
ensure that the rights of children are not
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