Turkey takes long overdue decision to designate NPM

Friday, January 17, 2014

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister announced yesterday, 16 January, that the recently established National Human Rights Institute will become Turkey’s National Preventive Mechanism. Despite this apparent step forward, there are still some concerns.

At an APT co-sponsored experts’ meeting the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Besir Atalay, yesterday announced the decision to give the country’s National Human Rights Institute the NPM mandate under the OPCAT. Although Turkey had previously informed the European Commission of this intention in its 2013 progress report, little preparation had been taken on the ground to make it a reality.

Turkey ratified the OPCAT in September 2011 and the NPM should have technically been in place by October the following year. Thus, while the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement comes some 15 months late, the decision is nonetheless welcome.

Despite this apparent step forward, participants at the experts’ meeting repeatedly expressed concern about the ability of the National Human Rights Institute to take on the NPM mandate. The Institute, which was formally established in 2013 and is still in the process of being made operational, was deemed to suffer from various shortcomings, including a weak legislative basis. From an OPCAT perspective, there are some legal ambiguities, and key provisions are missing. In addition, participants expressed concerns about the Institute’s functional independence, lack of resources and limited expertise in torture prevention.