Country of Origin Information Report


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Local Government
6.07 The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Official general report on Turkey (January 2002) noted that: Turkey is divided into 81 provinces (il), each headed by a provincial governor (vali). Provinces are subdivided into districts (ilçe), administered by a district governor (kaymakam). Districts may be further broken down into subdistricts (bucak). Governors are appointed for a number of years by the central authorities in Ankara, to which they are directly accountable via a chain of responsibility extending from district governor to provincial governor and on to the central authorities in Ankara. The role of governors is to represent the central authorities in the provinces. [2a]
6.08 The Ministry of Interior the General Directorate of the administration of Provinces report on ‘Civil Administration Units Municipalities Villages 2002’ notes that:
“Local government administrative divisions and local government units include the following:

Number of Civil Administrative Divisions (MÜLKİ İDARE BÖLÜMLERİ SAYISI)

İl/Province 81

İlçe/Sub -province 850

Bucak/District 688

“Number of Local Government Units (MAHALLİ İDARE BİRİMLERİ SAYISI)

Belediyeler/Municipalities 3216

Büyükşehir Belediyesi/Metropolitan municipalities 16

İl Merkezi Olan Belediyeler/Province downtown municipalities 65

Büyükşehir İlçe Belediyesi/Metropolitian subprovince municipalities 58

Büyükşehir Alt Kademe Belediyesi/Metropolitian subdistrict municipalities 31

İlçe Merkezi olan Belediyeler/ Subprovince center municipalities 792

Bucak Merkezi Olan Belediyeler/District center municipalities 335

Kasaba Belediyesi/ Subdistrict municipalities 1919

Köyler/Villages 35118[111]

6.09 The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs January 2002 report further stated that:
“Every village or neighbourhood has its own head, often known by the name ‘muhtar’. The muhtar acts as an intermediary between the population and the authorities, being the sole keeper of address records. The only official document that a muhtar can issue is a residence certificate (ikametgâh ilmühaberi). In theory, anyone taking up residence in or leaving a particular neighbourhood or village is supposed to report this to the local muhtar. In practice, that is often not done, with the muhtar not being approached until a need arises for a certificate of residence somewhere.” [2a] (page 20)
6.10 The United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance (UNPAN) in their report ‘Administrative Reform in the Mediterranean Region Summary of Turkey’ 2002, reported that:

“Villages are corporative entities made up of at least 150 people with property in common (land, grazing areas, schools).The main administrative entity is the Village Assembly, which chooses its chief (Muhtar, in charge for 5 years) and the Council members. The Council issues recommendations regarding the village’s affairs and plans its activities. The head of the village presides over the village’s projects and services.” [112] (page 5)

6.11 The Zaman newspaper reported on 2 October 2007 that in 2006, the Istanbul Governor’s Office required demographic records from 958 muhtars in Istanbul. According to the result, the population of Istanbul is 33 million, many people have registered with more than one muhtar. With the use of the Muhtarlık Otomasyon Sistemi (Muhtarlik Otomation System - MOS), the Governor’s Office aims to increase the efficiency and accuracy of muhtar registeration and service system reform. [84a]

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Human Rights

7 Introduction
7.01 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that:
“The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, serious problems remained in several areas. During the year human rights organizations documented a rise in cases of torture, beating, and abuse by security forces. Security forces committed unlawful killings; the number of arrests and prosecutions in these cases was low compared with the number of incidents, and convictions remained rare. Prison conditions remained poor, with problems of overcrowding and insufficient staff training.Violence against women, including honor killings and rape, continued to be a widespread problem. Child marriage was a problem. Police corruption contributed to trafficking in women and children to, from, and within the country for sexual exploitation.” [5g] (Introduction)
7.02 Human Rights Watch (HRW) World Report 2008, published on 31 January 2008 stated:
“Recent trends in human rights protection in Turkey have been retrograde. 2007 saw an intensification of speech-related prosecutions and convictions, controversial rulings by the judiciary in defiance of international human rights law, harassment of pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) officials and deputies, and a rise in reports of police brutality. The state authorities’ intolerance of difference or dissenting opinion has created an environment in which there have been instances of violence against minority groups.” [9b]

7.03 The European Commission Turkey 2007 Progress Report, published on 6 November 2007 noted:

“The fight against impunity of human rights violations remains an area of concern. There is a lack of prompt, impartial and independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations by members of security forces… 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. Turkey needs to investigate more thoroughly allegations that there have been human rights violations by members of the security forces.” [71c] (p13-14)
7.04 The International Helsinki Federation (IHF) report ‘Human Rights in the OSCE Region’ (Events of 2006), published on 27 March 2007, noted that:
“The process of reforming and improving human rights protection in Turkey slowed down in 2006. The use of indiscriminate and excessive force by security forces as well as bomb attacks by non-state groups resulted in numerous deaths. Resurgence of the armed activity against the authorities seemed to bolster the nationalist reaction in the government structures, media and the civil society, and human rights activists were both harassed by the authorities and threatened by paramilitary groups. Comprehensive reforms were still needed to ensure the independence of the judiciary and legal proceedings conforming to international standards, and efforts to prevent and remedy torture remained unsatisfactory.”[10c] (p1)

7.05 The Freedom House report ‘Freedom in the World 2008’, published on 2 July 2008, described Turkey as ‘partly free’. Using the following scale of 1 (being the most free) to 7 (being the least free), Freedom House assessed Turkey’s political rights as 3 and civil liberties as 3. The report stated that “Turkey struggles with corruption in government and in daily life. The AK Party originally came to power with promises to clean up government corruption, and it has adopted some anticorruption measures. However, enforcement is lacking, and a culture of tolerance of corruption pervades the general population. Parliamentary immunity prevents the prosecution of most politicians. Government transparency has improved in recent years through EU-related reforms. Turkey was ranked 64 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index.” [62a] The Freedom House Table of Independent Countries also described Turkey as ‘partly free’ with the same ratings for political rights and civil liberties. [62d]

See also Section 17 - Corruption
7.06 The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) undertook a mission in Istanbul, Turkey, from February 9 to 11, 2008 and reported that:
“FIDH and its member organisation the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği, IHD) express their deep preoccupation at the continuous human rights violations in the South-Eastern provinces. The organisations are particularly preoccupied by the bombing of civilian areas, in violation of fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. The organisations repeat their call to the authorities for a political and pacific settlement of the Kurdish Question, and urge the government to open talks with Kurdish organisations and civil society in this respect. “[72a]

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8 Security Forces

8.01 The website for the Office of the Prime Minister of Turkey in their “Turkey Interactive 2007”, prepared by the Turkish News Agency accessed 4 August 2008 noted that “The enforcement of law and order and security in the country is under the jurisdiction of the general security organizations, namely the gendarmerie, the police forces and the coast guard command. All these three agencies are attached to the Ministry of the Interior.” [36a] (p167 Internal Security)
8.02 The Freedom House report, ‘Countries at the Crossroads 2007 – Turkey’, noted that:

“The military holds a special place in the Turkish republic. Since Turkey’s first military coup, in 1960, it has acted as the guarantor of Turkey’s secularism, territorial integrity, and government functioning. While it has never stayed in power long, it used the first coup, and subsequent ones in 1971 and 1980, to increase its autonomy and enhance its role during civilian rule. Turkish generals have expressed opinions on everything from judicial decisions to draft bills in the National Assembly to EU membership, and those opinions have seldom been ignored altogether. After the Welfare Party came to dominate the ruling coalition in 1996, leading to increased fundamentalism, the military forced its removal.” [62c] (p16)

8.03 The Freedom House report, ‘Countries at the Crossroads 2007’ further stated that:
“The EU continues to criticize Turkey for lack of civilian control of the military. Turkey’s EU-inspired reforms have confined the once-powerful National Security Council (NSC) to an advisory role with a civilian at its head, removed military members from political bodies such as the higher education council and RTUK, and increased transparency and parliamentary oversight of military expenditures. Moreover, the reforms have been accompanied by increased space for open public critique of the military. However, the military is still not entirely subservient to the civilian ministry of defense, and it maintains autonomy in its strategic decision making. High-ranking military officers continue to voice opinions on domestic and foreign policy issues; in October 2006 the chief of staff accused the government of encouraging Islamic fundamentalism. Meanwhile, public trust in the military is strong, and military schools are among the best in the country, which contribute to the continued power and prestige of this institution.” [62c] (p16-17)
Intelligence Agency (MIT)
8.03 As stated on the website of the National Intelligence Organisation (Milli Istihbarat Teşkilati. - MIT) (website accessed on 5 August 2008)

“The Turkish National Intelligence Organization was founded as a body subordinate to the ‘Prime Ministry’, under the law no 644 dated 6 July 1965. This law after being in force for 18 years, has been replaced by Law no 2937 titled zState Intelligence Services and the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation’ as of January 1 1984 as a result of the efforts paid to eliminate any deficiencies, troubles and gaps that were come across during the practice of the previous law and to adapt to the rapidly changing and improving world conditions.” [88a] (Section on Duties, Powers and Responsibilities of the MIT) “The objective of this Law is to organize the principles and methods regarding the procurement and handling of the State Intelligence as well as the ones regarding the organization, duties and functions of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization. The Undersecretariat of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization has been established, being directly subordinate to the Prime Minister.” [88b] (State Intelligence services and the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation)

8.04 The Global Security Organisation in their website accessed 19 January 2007 also noted that:
“Intelligence gathering is the primary responsibility of the National Intelligence Organization (Milli Istihbarat Teskilati--MIT), which combines the functions of internal and external intelligence agencies… Military and civil intelligence requirements are formulated by the National Intelligence Coordination Committee. This committee includes members of the staff of the National Security Council, to which it is directly responsible. Nevertheless, a lack of coordination among the intelligence services is said to be a weakness that hampers MIT effectiveness. MIT has no police powers; it is authorized only to gather intelligence and conduct counterintelligence abroad and to uncover communist, extreme right-wing and separatist--that is, Kurdish and Armenian--groups internally. The MIT chief reports to the prime minister but was in the past considered close to the military. MIT has been charged with failing to notify the government when it became aware of past plots, if not actual complicity in military coup attempts. The organization functions under strict discipline and secrecy. Housing and headquarters offices for its personnel are co-located in a compound in Ankara.” [56]
8.05 “Turkey Interactive 2007”, prepared by the Turkish News Agency for the Office of the Prime Minister of Turkey accessed 4 August 2008 noted that:

“The police force carries out its activities under the Directorate General of Security and includes central and provincial organisations. The area of responsibility of the Turkish police is restricted by the municipal borders. Outside these areas, police functions are carried out by the gendarmerie. [36a] (p167) (Internal Security ) The Turkish Police Force, organized across the country in 1,180 stations, 750 district and 81 provincial directorates excluding the headquarters in Ankara, perform its functions by approximately 190,000 personnel, almost 170,000 of them working in security services. Around 10,000 women serve in the police force. The force recruits the graduates of the Police Academy, offering four years of higher education and training, for managerial posts”. [36a] (p169) (Internal Security)

8.06 The European Commission Turkey 2006 Progress Report published 6 November 2007 recorded that, “two circulars were issued by the Ministries of Interior and Justice in November 2005 and January 2006, respectively, to clarify the interaction between prosecutors and the judicial police... As regards the implementation of the new Code of Criminal Procedure, the establishment of the judicial police has led to some tensions between the law enforcement bodies and prosecutors. Despite the Ministries of Interior and Justice issuing two circulars, prosecutors report difficulties in effective supervision of the judicial police.” [71a] (p9). Furthermore the same 2006 report noted that, “the Human Rights Boards have yet to assume a more prominent role in the on-site monitoring of law enforcement establishments. Since October 2005, the Boards carried out 992 visits to police stations and detention centres.” [71a] (p13)

8.07 The European Commission Turkey 2006 Progress Report recorded that “Turkey is a party to all main international conventions on police co-operation. International police co-operation and co-operation with the EU Member States is mostly good. [71a] (p63) The EC 2007 progress report published 6 November 2007 further stated that “Turkey is party to all main international conventions and signed several bilateral agreements on police cooperation. Lack of legislation on data protection continues to be a difficulty in terms of cooperation at international level and is an obstacle the conclusion of an operational agreement with Europol. The adoption and implementation of new legislation on protection of personal data and the creation of an independent supervisory authority remain key issues. An ethical code for law enforcement agents in line with international standards awaits adoption. Turkey should continue its efforts in its regional law enforcement cooperation. [71c] (p65)

8.08 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2006 report also noted that “Courts investigated many allegations of abuse and torture by security forces during the year; however, they rarely convicted or punished offenders. When courts did convict offenders, punishment generally was minimal and sentences were often suspended. Authorities typically allowed officers accused of abuse to remain on duty and, in occasional cases, promoted them during their trials, which often took years.” [5h] (section 1d)
8.09 The same USSD 2006 report further noted that “During the first nine months of the year, 715 administrative or judicial cases were opened against security personnel and other public officials on torture, maltreatment, or excessive use of force charges. The decision of ‘acquittal’ or ‘no need to punish’ was reached in all 85 maltreatment or torture cases. Out of 630 ‘excessive use of force’ cases, 10 resulted in prison sentences, one resulted in a temporary suspension, 598 resulted in acquittal or no need to punish, and 21 remained ongoing.” [5h] (section 1d)
8.10 The Amnesty International (AI) Annual Report 2008 stated that:

“Investigations into human rights violations perpetrated by law enforcement officials remained flawed and there were insufficient prosecutions… In June, parliament amended the Law on the Powers and Duties of the Police, giving police further powers to use lethal force by allowing them to shoot escaping suspects if they ignore a warning to stop. In April, all four police officers tried for killing Ahmet Kaymaz and his 12-year-old son Uğur outside their home were acquitted. The officers said that the deaths were the result of an armed clash, but forensic reports showed that both victims had been shot at close range several times.” [12e]

8.12 The Amnesty International (AI) Annual Report 2008 further stated that:
“Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment continued, especially outside official places of detention. In June, Mustafa Kükçe died after being detained in several different police stations in Istanbul. Relatives who identified his body said that it was apparent that he had been tortured before his death. No case was brought against police officers. Lawyer Muammer Öz was allegedly beaten by police officers while drinking tea with family members in the Moda district of Istanbul. An official medical report failed to show that his nose had been broken in the attack. Muammer Öz told Amnesty International that police beat him with batons and their fists and told him that they would never be punished.” [12e]
8.13 The Human Rights Watch (HRW) World Report 2008, published on 31 January 2008 stated that:
“Ill-treatment appeared to be on the rise in 2007 and was regularly reported as occurring during arrest, outside places of official detention, and in the context of demonstrations, as well as in detention centers. This trend was further exacerbated by the passing in June of a new police law granting wide-ranging powers of stop and search. After the new law came into force, cases of policebrutality were also reported in the context of the routine identity checkspermitted in the new law. There were continuing reports of ill-treatment inprisons and, in January, conscientious objector Halil Savda was ill-treated at theTekirdağ military barracks.” [9b]
8.14 The same HRW 2008 report further noted that:

“Fatal shootings of civilians by members of the security forces remain a serious concern. Although police typically state that the killing occurred because the individual has failed to obey a warning to stop, in some cases these may amount to extrajudicial executions. The fatal shooting of Bülent Karataş near Hozat, Tunceli, in September 2007, bore the hallmarks of a summary execution. His companion, Rıza Çiçek, who survived serious gunshot wounds, explained how he was shot by military personnel while on a beekeeping trip. Another suspected summary execution was that of the villager Ejder Demir, shot dead near Özalp, Van, in September. Nigerian asylum seeker Festus Okey died of gunshot wounds incurred while in police custody in Istanbul in August.” [9b]

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Other government forces

8.15 “Turkey Interactive 2007”, prepared by the Turkish News Agency for the Office of the Prime Minister of Turkey accessed 4 August 2008 noted that “The Gendarmerie performs its duties in areas outside the municipal borders and in district centers where there is no police force. Approximately 24 million citizens, corresponding to almost 33% of the population, live in the responsibility areas of the gendarmerie and this figure increases to 48 million people (65% of the population) during summertime... Every province in Turkey has a gendarmerie provincial command administering a number of gendarmerie district commands equal to the number of districts.” [36a] (p170)
8.16 As recorded on the website of the General Command of Gendarmerie, updated on 6 August 2008: “The Gendarmerie of The Republic of Turkey, which is responsible for the maintenance of safety and public order as well as carrying out other duties assigned by laws and regulation, is an armed security and law enforcement force, having military nature…In accordance with Act No 2803 on ‘The Organization, Duties and Powers of The Gendarmerie’, the duties of the gendarmerie fall in four main points as administrative, judicial, military and other duties…The administrative duties cover the activities preventing crime in order to perform the protection, watching, safety and public order.” [99] (Section on Duties)
Village Guard

8.17 In correspondence from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated 2 July 2007 regarding the Laws amending the village law no: 5673 and its adoption date 27 May 2007 it was noted that:

“ARTICLE 1- The second paragraph of the Village Law of 18/3/1924 with no: 442 has been amended as follows;

In provinces to be determined by the Cabinet; in cases where circumstances which call for declaration of state of emergency and where severe signs of violent actions arise in villages or in their neighbourhood, or in case of any infringement of life and property of the villagers for whatsoever reason, it can be decided upon the proposal of the Governor and approval of the Minister of Interior to appoint enough number of temporary village guards. The number of temporary village guards to be appointed under these circumstances can not exceed 40.000. The Cabinet shall be entitled to increase this number by up to fifty per cent. In case the circumstances which call for appointment of village guards are no more applicable or in case of administrative necessity, the appointment of temporary village guards can be ceased in line with the due procedures regarding such appointments.” [4a]

8.18 In the same correspondence the FCO further noted that, “The temporary village guards shall be paid throughout the course of the service a monthly salary equivalent to a multiplication of monthly coefficient applicable to the salaries of public officers, by an indicator of 11.500…The boarding of the temporary village guards who participate in operations along with the security forces shall be born by the units under which those security forces operate and from the budget of these units… Additonal article16- The duties of temporary village guards who have completed the age of 55 shall be terminated… Being convicted from a terrorist offense, temporary village guards or their widow(er)s shall not be able to receive any pension.” [4a]

8.19 The European Commission Turkey 2007 Progress Report published 6 November 2007 recorded that “No progress has been made towards abolishing the system of village guards. On the contrary, amendments were adopted by Parliament in May 2007 to facilitate recruitment of village guards at the request of a provincial governor and with the approval of the Ministry of the Interior. The Law also improves the social rights and pensions of the village guards. There were cases of the hiring of new voluntary village guards, who are not paid but are armed by the state.” [71c]

8.20 The EC Turkey 2006 Progress report published 8 November 2006 recorded that according to official figures there are 57 601 village guards still on duty in 2006. [71a] (footnote p23)
8.21 The 2005 Human Rights Report, prepared by the Human Rights Foundation, issued on 29 December 2005 noted that, in June [2005] Interior Minister Abdülkadir Aksu answered a question by İzmir deputy Türkan Miçoğulları on the situation of temporary village guards. Aksu stated that a total of 57,757 village guards were employed in 22 provinces. These people received an average wage of 365 YTL. [83a] (p15)
8.22 The same 2005 Human Rights Foundation report also stated that “The details for the provinces were listed as: in Diyarbakır 5,187 village guards, in Şırnak 6,756, in Batman 2,887, in Bingöl 2,511, in Bitlis 3,730, in Mardin 3,323, in Muş 1,860, in Siirt 4,661, in Van 7,320, in Hakkari 7,614, in Tunceli 368, in Adıyaman 1,485, in Ağrı 1,838, in Ardahan 91, in Elazığ 2,083, in Gaziantep 555, in Iğdır 362, in Kilis 33, in Maraş 2,236, in Kars 558, in Malatya 1,365 and in Şanlıurfa 934 village guards. Since the establishment of the village guards system on 26 March 1985 a total of 2,284 village guards had been charged with ‘terror offences’, 934 with offences against property, 1,234 with offences against individuals, and 420 with offences of smuggling. Among the 4,972 accused village guards 853 had been put in pre-trial detention.” [83a] (p15)

8.23 The same 2005 Human Rights Foundation report further noted that “Rahmi Alkan, Sadi Kılınç and İlhan Akbulut complained to the HRA in Hakkari and said that village guards beat them when they wanted to go to a picnic near Ağaçdibi village on 22 May. Rahmi Alkan said that two village guards had asked them why they had not greeted them and they had replied that they were not obliged to do so. The village guards had become angry and pointed their loaded guns at them. When they left the picnic area another village guard had come up to them in a car and started to beat them with the butt of his rifle. Other people had rescued them from the hands of the village guards.” [83a] (p15-16)
8.24 Reuters UK published an article on 14 November 2007 “’Turkey’s village guards face danger from all sides” by Thomas Grove noting that “Sadik Babat, a Turkish Kurd, is an unlikely figure to be working as one of 57,000 state-sponsored village guards throughout ’Turkey’s southeast, acting as a guide and fighting the Kurdish rebels alongside the same army that destroyed his home…. Since the ’system’s implementation, 4,972 guards have committed recorded crimes, while 853 have been imprisoned, according to parliamentary records… Village guards say the 500 lira ($424) monthly salary also draws enlistments in the ’country’s poorest region.” [85]

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