Following their arrest, many children have been detained in adult detention facilities without record of the detention being made, and without the children having access to lawyers or their family. In many cases, once charged, the children have been remanded in custody, with pre-trial detention periods ranging from several months to over a year. During the detention period, these children often did not have access to education, health facilities and leisure activities. Many children have reported ill-treatment and torture during their arrest and their subsequent detention.
Earlier this year, the Turkish government amended the law to prevent the prosecution of child demonstrators under anti-terrorism legislation solely for their alleged participation in demonstrations. Under these amendments, all children previously convicted under the Anti-Terror Law will have their convictions quashed and all children prosecuted under other laws will be tried in Children’s Courts rather than adult Special Heavy Penal Courts.

While this is a positive step, in some cases children have not been released due to courts being slow to transfer the cases to Children’s Courts. There is also a lack of Children’s Courts in some provinces, so it is likely that a number of these children are likely to be tried in adult courts

The prosecution of children under the same procedures as adults constitute a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Child Protection Law in Turkey. The Turkish authorities must ensure that the existing juvenile justice system is implemented in accordance with international human rights standards and Turkey’s domestic legislation.

The Turkish authorities have also failed in their obligation to effectively investigate the widespread, consistent and credible allegations that children were ill-treated during their arrest and detention in the context of the prosecutions.
Take Action
Click on the “send” button below to send an email to the Minister of Justice calling on him to start immediate, effective and thorough investigations into all allegations of ill treatment and to provide access to redress for children whose rights were violated during the prosecutions.
Protect the rights of all children in Turkey, 19 November 2010

Dear Minister of Justice,

I am writing to express my concern with regard to the treatment of children following their alleged participation in demonstrations on issues of concern to the Kurdish community in Turkey. I am also concerned by the disproportionate use of force during demonstrations, and the ill-treatment of children at the time of arrest and in places of detention. Despite consistent and credible allegations of ill-treatment, no police officer or prison guard has been brought to justice for their actions.

I welcome the legal amendments which ended the prosecution of child demonstrators under anti-terrorism legislation solely for their participation in demonstrations. However the implementation of the amendments has been problematic. In a number of cases particularly in Istanbul, courts have been slow to transfer cases to Children’s Courts allowing children to remain in detention. I am also concerned that due to the lack of Children’s Courts in some provinces children are likely to be tried according to the same procedures as adults in violation of both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Child Protection Law in Turkey.

The Turkish authorities are obliged under international and domestic law to protect the rights of children during their arrest, detention and trial. I am calling you to ensure not only in law but also in practice, that the rights of children in the juvenile justice system are protected.

In particular I urge you to:

– Investigate promptly and effectively any allegation of torture or other ill treatment, and bring the perpetrators to justice

Ensure that children who have been prosecuted and their families are provided with advice on how to seek redress including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition

Ensure that children are detained only as a measure of last resort, and that any child detained is immediately provided with legal assistance, access to a social worker and that family members are notified

Ensure that children are only tried in Children’s Courts as required by the Child Protection Law.