Legislative Framework 23.46 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission includes information regarding Legislative Framework for Children obtained from interviews with a number of sources. Mr Yilmaz Head of the Department of Child Labour told the mission that the Turkish government had adopted laws and regulations relating to the prevention of child labour in line with international standards. There were also many international organisations operating in Turkey that worked with the government to regulate child labour, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN). Mr Yilmaz reported that in 2006, the ILO had chosen Turkey as one of the most responsible and sensitive countries taking forward work to prevent child labour.  (S15.1) 23.47 Mr Yilmaz said that there were a number of Turkish byelaws related to the prevention of child labour but that constitutionally, article 50 of the Turkish Labour Law was the strongest provision in place. Byelaws concerning the education of children and the prevention of child labour included:
“- Law no 4857 (Article 71 of the Turkish Labour Law) which prohibits children from being engaged in hard labour.
- Law no 222 which concerns the obligation to complete compulsory primary and secondary education for 8 years (6 to 14yrs).
- Law no 2821 which concerns the syndicate trade union law provision on child labour.
- Law no 2559 which concerns the provision of guidelines for the police and local authorities on preventing child labour.
- Law no 1580 which concerns the responsibilities of municipalities regarding child labour.
- Law no 2828 which pertains to social services and child care services.
- Law no 5395 which concerns child protection.”  (S15.2)
23.48 The Report of the UKBA Fact Finding Mission noted that Mrs Pieters, the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that UNICEF had undertaken a comparative study assessing the differences between the provisions in Turkish national laws that addressed issues relating to children and those in EU directives. This study would be used to lobby the government on amendments needed to strengthen the existing legislative framework for children. She said that child laws relating to freedom of expression and freedom to be taught in one’s own language dated back to 1932 and were in need of major amendments. Amendments made in 2004 had not addressed the need to extend coverage to the agricultural sector. While ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Turkey submitted reservations on articles 17, 29 and 30. These reservations remain today. The Turkish authorities should be encouraged to withdraw these reservations during the review of their 2 and 3 State Party Report in 2009.  (S3.3) 23.49 Ms Douglas-Todd, the Resident Twinning Advisor, told the mission that legislation was in place and there were many active campaigns in relation to child labour, but implementation remained a problem.  (S18.8)
23.50 When the fact finding team asked about any evidence on prosecutions and convictions bought forward on the unlawful use of child labour the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Mrs Pieters stated that there were no statistics maintained by the government or the Bar Association on this subject. Mrs Pieters said that each Bar Association office across the country had a department for dealing with children’s issues but these were not very efficient. Mrs Pieters also mentioned that 60 Bar offices across the country had offices known as ‘Child Rights Commissions’ but only 40 of these were quite active. Officially speaking, legal redress was available to children, though concerns remained around the fact that there were no children’s courts and some children’s cases had been referred to the adult courts.  (S3.11)
Education 23.51 The Child Information Network in Turkey, accessed 26 August 2008?, noted that under Article 28:
“States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity; they shall, in particular
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.” [91c]
23.52 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “The government was committed to furthering ’children’s welfare and worked to expand opportunities in education and health.Government-provided education through age 14 or the eighth grade was free, universal, and compulsory. Turkey Statistical Institute and World Bank figures showed that gross enrollment for grades one to eight was 96 percent, while net enrollment for those grades was 90 percent. The maximum age to which public schooling was provided was 18. Only 40 percent of children have a high-school diploma, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. One in 10 girls does not attend compulsory primary school.” [5g] (Section 5)
23.53 The European Commission 2007 Progress report on Turkey published 6 November 2007 mentioned that “As concerns education, the gender gap in primary education decreased to 4.6% in the 2006- 2007 school year from 5% in the 2005-2006 school year. The first phase of the campaign on education for girls conducted by the Ministry of National Education and UNICEF ended. Between 2004 and 2006 a total of 191,879 girls and 114,734 boys were integrated into primary education. A cash transfer scheme reinforced the campaign by providing direct income support to families. Private-sector and NGO campaigns aimed at increasing enrolment rates in primary and pre-school education continued.” [71c] (p19) 23.54 The EC 2007 report further noted that “the primary school enrolment rate remains at 90%. In the area of education, improved monitoring of progress and drop-outs, especially of girls from primary education, is needed. More efforts are needed to reduce regional disparities in schooling rates. Girls’ enrolment in primary education has increased, but the gap in secondary education remains wide.” [71c] (p19)
23.55 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission includes information regarding Education for Children obtained from interviews with a number of sources. Mrs Pieters the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that Turkey did not have enough schools for its 10.8 million school age children, despite the fall in the pace of population growth. Over the past ten years, the Ministry of National Education had mobilised resources to combat the issue including, in cooperation with UNICEF, the launch of a girls’ education campaign ‘Haydi Kizlar Okula’ (Come on Girls, to School). This campaign was launched because in many parts of the country, local communities saw no point in girls attending school, expecting women to play a traditional role in society later in life. Many conservative families were unwilling to educate their daughters, particularly beyond the age of 11. As well as doubting the benefit of education for girls, they did not want them to mix with boys and did not think it safe to travel to school on a bus.  (S3.6)
23.56 Mrs Pieters said that there were some parents who were willing to send both their daughters and sons to school, but in cases of financial hardship, the sons were given preference to continue schooling, as daughters were more likely to be asked to stay at home to help out with domestic chores. The government had enlisted the help of community leaders and field workers in an effort to overcome these preconceptions and provide families with financial support so that their children could attend school. Despite this, overcrowded school facilities and other unfavourable circumstances provided families with a powerful excuse to not send girls to school.  (S3.7) 23.57 Mrs Bas Head of Department, Directorate General for Women’s Status told the mission that the ‘Come on Girls to School’ campaign which was being run in rural areas and was becoming widespread across the whole of Turkey. (S13.14) Mrs Bas also said that there were many initiatives being implemented to increase the proportion of girl children attending schools.  (S13.18) 23.58 Ms Sahin AKP MP for Gaziantep added that raising educational awareness among young girls on human rights was a key priority and seen as an important means of eradicating abuses against women at a later stage in their lives. The campaign had so far seen 250,000 girls return to school.  (S20.8)
23.59 With regard to absenteeism from school, Mrs Pieters told the mission that Turkey had no strict guidelines on children who were absent or missing from school. Until recently, there was no data kept on numbers absent. However, with UNICEF support, the government had now made it mandatory for schools to record absentees and take action against parents for non-attendance. The new system (e-school) recorded all children in each sub district from the ages of 6-14 who attended school and teachers and school principals then fed this information into a database. School principals and Teachers were also required to open a file for each student to further track their progress and attendance. The province of Urfa had shown positive results in school attendance since the introduction of the new recording system and Mrs Pieters indicated that the new system would provide a useful tool for UNICEF to conduct a trend analysis in 2009 on the proportion of children working in Turkey.  (S3.9)
23.60 As recorded in Turkey’s Statistical Yearbook 2007, in the education year 2007/2008, 98.53 per cent of males and 96.14 per cent of females were in primary education; in secondary education 61.17 per cent of males and 55.81 per cent of females and for higher education year 2006/07, 21.56 per cent of males and 18.66 per cent of females were in higher education. [89a] (p96 Education and Culture) Return to contents
Go to list of sources 23.61 In a letter from the British Embassy in Ankara to the Country of Origin Information Service, dated 27 March 2007:
“I refer to your letter of 21 February for additional information about services for children who are deaf, or whose hearing is impaired, in the province of Izmir. We are aware of at least one state-funded school for deaf children in the city of Izmir. This provides education from pre-school level up to 8th grade:
“There is no secondary school for the deaf and hearing impaired in the province. At present children have the choice between being assisted to attend a normal secondary school or attending a specialist school in one of the neighbouring provinces in the Aegean region.
“Pre-school education is also available. We are aware of two state-funded specialist toddler groups in Izmir itself, in the Carsi and Konak districts. Provision is likely to be much more limited outside of the main towns, as in the UK. To access these services a child’s parents must first submit documentation to the local Directorate of Education confirming that his or her hearing is impaired. A state hospital will usually be able to provide a suitable report.” [4q]
23.62 The International Deaf Children’s Society (IDCS) released a report by Mary C Essex on ‘Resources for Deaf people in Turkey’ which noted that:
“Turkey has been doing a good job of special education and there are many resources available for people with disabilities. There are 47 elementary schools and 14 high schools for the Deaf throughtout Turkey. All of these schools are under the auspice of the Turkish Ministry of Education. Other Key National Offices that provide support for People with Disabilities are:
“Ministry of Social Services and Child Protection Services
Milli Sosyal Hizmitler Cocuk Esirgeme Kurumu Bakanligi.
“Turkish Rehabilitation Centers (SHCEK): There are 385 updated lists of centers with 41 centers for Hearing and Speech Impaired 337 centers for the Mentally Retarded and 7 Spastic centers. These centers serve an early infant program and work with families and children from 0 – 21.” 
Religious Education 23.63 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “The constitution and laws provide for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice; however, the government imposed significant restrictions on Muslim and other religious groups… The government oversees Muslim religious facilities and education through its Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), which is under the authority of the Prime Ministry.” [5g] (Section 2c)
23.64 The USSD 2007 report further noted that “The law establishes eight years of compulsory secular education for students. Subsequently students may pursue study at imam hatip (Islamic preacher) high schools…The constitution establishes compulsory religious and moral instruction in primary and secondary schools. Religious minorities are exempted. However, a few religious minorities, such as Protestants, faced difficulty obtaining exemptions, particularly if their identification cards did not list a religion other than Islam.” [5g] (Section 2c)
23.65 The European Commission 2007 Progress report on Turkey published 6 November 2007 stated that “application lodged by a family who are followers of Alevism, the ECtHR held unanimously, in October 2007, that there had been a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No.1 (right to education) to the ECHR. The Court took note of the Government's acknowledgement that these classes do not take into account the religious diversity which prevails in Turkish society; it further considered that the religious instruction syllabus in Turkey could not be considered to meet the criteria of objectivity and pluralism necessary in a democratic society, and that there is no appropriate method to ensure respect for parents’ convictions. Consequently, the Court held that Turkey should bring its educational system and domestic legislation into conformity with the ECHR.” [71c] (p17) 23.66 As outlined in the Human Rights Watch (HRW) World Report 2008, published on 31 January 2008:
“In an October judgment that may have implications for the draft constitution, the European Court of Human Rights found that the failure to grant an Alevi schoolgirl exemption from constitutionally enshrined compulsory religious education classes focused on Sunni Islam constituted a violation of the right to education (Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey).” [9b] 23.67 The Minority Rights Group International (MRG) report ‘A Quest for Equality: Minorities in Turkey’ published 10 December 2007 stated that:
“Compulsory religious instruction in schools is discriminatory not only against Alevis, as is often emphasized by the EU 195 but also against other non-Sunni Muslims and Sunni Muslims who either do not conform to the Sunni Hanefi faith or do not agree with its official version. It is also discriminatory against atheists, agnostics and secularists, who may not wish their children to receive any religious education.” [57c] (p21)
23.68 The USSD International Religious Freedom Report 2007 on Turkey published 14 September 2007 stated that:
“Alevi children have the same compulsory religious education as all Muslims, and many Alevis alleged discrimination in the ’Government’s failure to include any of their doctrines or beliefs in religious instruction classes in public schools. Alevis currently have more than 4,000 court cases against the Ministry of Education regarding this alleged discrimination. The Government revealed in January 2007 its new religious course curriculum which was to include instruction on Alevism, but many Alevis believed the materials were inadequate and, in some cases false.” [5e] 23.69 The BIA News Center on 11 March 2008 reported in an article, ‘Compulsory Religious Education is Hypocritical Violation of Rights’ that:
“Constitutional law expert Gürcan has criticised the continuing obligation of school children to attend Religious Education classes. They have been controversial for two reasons. For one, many people argue that religious education should not be compulsory. Secondly, although the name of the class is ‘Religious Culture and Ethics’, students are mostly instructed in religious practices of Sunni Islam, rather than learning about different religious beliefs.” [102b]
23.70 The EC 2007 Progress report concluded by stating that “Overall, there has been progress with regard to child labour, access to, and reduction of the gender gap in primary education and the registration of children at birth. However, sustained further efforts are needed in all these areas.” [71c] (p20)
Child care 23.71 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “The government operated 113 orphanages, including 48 for girls and 65 for boys, serving a total of 6,116 children during the year. The government operated 43 children and youth centers and eight surveillance homes that provided daycare services and temporary boarding.” [5g] (Section 6) 23.72 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission includes information regarding Child care and orphanages obtained from interviews with a number of sources. Mrs Nurdan Tornaci, Deputy Director General and Nilgun Geven, Head of Department for Women’s Branch Department of Services for Women, Children and Society (SHCEK) told the mission that SHCEK provided orphanages for children aged up to 12, dormitories and nurseries to educate children aged between 13-18, rehabilitation centres for children working on the street, homes for the elderly and the disabled, and shelters for women subject to domestic violence. SHCEK also worked on child custody issues, particularly in cases of children of foreign nationals.  (S11.3) 23.73 Mrs Pieters the Deputy Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund explained that UNICEF was working to come up with recommendations to present to the Turkish parliament on minimum standards of care. UNICEF’s research had identified the need for more qualified social workers trained in early childhood development to work in orphanages. She also explained that the training of more social workers would take time as there were only two facilities in Turkey that provided the necessary training.  (S3.13)
23.74 The European Commission 2007 Progress report published 6 November 2007 stated that “The way in which children are treated in institutions remains a cause for concern. Efforts are required to review the existing standards of care and protection of the Social Services and Child Protection Agency and to improve the capacity of its staff. Efforts to encourage foster parenting as an alternative to institutional care need to be intensified.” [71c] (p19)
23.75 On 10 November 2005 the Turkish Daily News reported regarding the Malatya Case that:
“Two more caretakers were arrested by the court as part of an investigation into a scandal at the Malatya Childcare Center. This increase to seven the number of people arrested for responsibility in the mistreatment of children at the center… The Interior Ministry launched an internal investigation into Malatya Governor Osman Derya Kadıoğlu. Interior Minister Abdülkadir Aksu also sent an inter-departmental circular to the local ’governor’s offices of 81 provinces, warning officials that such mistreatment of children protected by the state should never happen again.” [23b] 23.76 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “In 2005 police arrested over a dozen nurses, caretakers, and other employees of the Malatya state orphanage in connection with an investigation into the alleged torture and abuse of children at the institution. On December 26, a Malatya penal court sentenced nine suspects to one ’year’s imprisonment for negligence and misuse of authority. A second case against five other employees continued at ’year’s end.” [5g] (Section 5) Health issues 23.77 The United Nations ’Children’s Fund Turkey (UNICEF) in the title page of their 2006 report, ‘Child First’ stated that:
“For over fifty years the United Nation’s Children’s Fund has been contributing its international experience and resources to programmes and projects for children in Turkey. In partnership with government, civil society, the private sector, children, their families and communities, UNICEF continues to help build a society where every child benefits from good health care. Some of Turkey’s successes for children and their families include infant mortality rates reduced from 43 to 29 per thousand live births and under five mortality rates reduced from 52 to 37 per thousand and polio–free certification by the European Regional Commission for Poliomyelitis Eradication.” [91a]
23.78 The same UNICEF 2006 report, ‘Child First - Routine Immunisation’ noted that:
“Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, polio and measles are potentially fatal diseases to which children are particularly vulnerable. All seven of these diseases are vaccine–preventable yet, according to the Turkey Demographic and Health Survey 2003 (TDHS), only 45% of children under five years of age — 34.4% in rural areas — received all of the necessary vaccinations before their first birthday.” [91b] 23.79 The European Commission 2007 Progress report on Turkey published 6 November 2007 noted that, “With regard to the coordination of social security systems, efforts to build the administrative capacity of the Social Security Institution, the competent authority under Community legislation, continued in particular through the establishment of an EU department. Preparations with a view to introduction of the European health insurance card have not started.” [71c] (p35) See also Section 25.01 Medical Issues Return to contents
Go to list of sources Mistreatment of children in detention
23.80 The US State Department (USSD) 2007 report on Human Rights Practices published 11 March 2008 noted that “At ’year’s end, prosecutors had not opened a case regarding 2005 allegations that wardens at the Sincan ’Children’s and Youth Prison beat five inmates between 19 and 21 years old on the soles, a practice known as ‘falaka’. Following the allegations, the Ankara chief prosecutor and Forensic Medicine Institute confirmed the existence of bruises and wounds. Prosecutors had one of the five boys identify the perpetrators from a group of 45 wardens. Ozgur Karakaya one of the youths identified the six wardens but was not told their names. Human rights groups were unable to determine the status of the prosecutorial investigation at ’year’s end.” [5g] (Section 1c)
See Section 11 Mistreatment in Detention
23.81 The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN), in an article posted in 19 June 2008, stated that:
“Members of a Kurdish ’children’s choir face up to five years in prison as they go on trial in south eastern Turkey. The choir - whose members are aged from 12 to 17 - is accused of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdish separatist rebel group, the PKK. The charges were brought after the group took part in a world music festival in San Francisco, and sang a march in Kurdish. The ’prosecutor’s indictment claims the song is the anthem of the PKK.” [94a] 23.82 The BBC however reported on the 19 June 2008 that “A Turkish judge has thrown out a case against members of a Kurdish ’children’s choir, who faced up five years in prison over a song they sang.” [66h]
23.83 CRIN further reported in another article posted March 21, 2008 stating that “In the city of Hakkari, as in few other Kurdish cities, the Turkish government did not give permission for Newroz celebrations. When members of the public insisted on holding the celebration, police attacked civilians and brutally beat them, including women and children. During one of the beatings, plainclothes police officers dislocated a 15 years old boy’s arm in front running cameras. The boy’s name is Cuneyt Ertus, and he was immediately taken to the police station where he was interrogated and tortured for two days. Cuneyt then was sent to prison which is more than 100 miles away from his hometown for resisting arrest and was released 21 day’s later.” [94b]
23.84 BIA News Center reported in May 2008, ‘Families Accuse Police for Torturing Their Kids’ that:
“Families of the high school children who were tortured in the police station turn to the Association of Human Rights. They report the crime and the Public Prosecutor starts an investigation. According to the report by Erkan Çınar in daily Birgün, on May 8 the three children were taken inside the station forcefully and were beaten for more than an hour. Their heads were banged on the walls, their testicles were kicked and they were chocked. They were not allowed to see their families. Later they were sent to Çiğli Police Department and from there to the Department of Public Order. When they were taken to Egekent State Hospital, ice was put on their swellings and bruises.” [102e] 23.85 The European Commission 2007 Progress report on Turkey published 6 November 2007 noted that “However, cases of torture and ill-treatment are still being reported, especially during arrest and outside detention centres. There is no independent monitoring of places of detention by independent national bodies, pending the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.” [71c] (p13)
23.86 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission to Turkey 11 – 20 February 2008, noted that a judge from International Affairs Department of Prisons and Detention Facilities explained that children 13-15 years old convicted of crimes were sent to one of 133 probation centres which implemented non-custodial sentences and provided social and psychological support to prisoners after conviction and to victims. Children 16-18 years old convicted of crimes were sentenced to either non–custodial or custodial according to the nature of the crime. He also explained that in Turkey all victims of crime were also supported by probation centres. Each probation centre has a protection board which consists of people from local businesses, civil society organizations, public organisations and which provides support to both victims and prisoners and provides work for them.  (9.13) 23.87 The EC 2007 report further noted that “Overall, the Turkish legal framework includes a comprehensive set of safeguards against torture and ill-treatment. However, cases still occur, especially before detention starts. The fight against impunity remains an area of concern.” [71c] (p13)