Turkey is a constitutional republic with an executive presidential system and a unicameral 600-seat parliament (the Grand National Assembly). In presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers expressed concern regarding restrictions on media reporting and the campaign environment, including the jailing of a presidential candidate, that restricted the ability of opposition candidates to compete on an equal basis and campaign freely.
The National Police and Jandarma, under the control of the Ministry of Interior, are responsible for security in urban areas and rural and border areas, respectively. The military has overall responsibility for border control. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over security forces. Members of the security forces committed abuses, and impunity was a significant problem.
Under broad antiterror legislation passed in 2018, the government continued to restrict the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms and compromised the rule of law. Since the 2016 coup attempt, authorities have dismissed or suspended tens of thousands of civil servants and government workers, including more than 60,000 police and military personnel and more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors, arrested or imprisoned more than 95,000 citizens, and closed more than 1,500 nongovernmental organizations on terrorism-related grounds, primarily for alleged ties to the movement of cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government accused of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt and designated as the leader of the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization.”
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: arbitrary killings; suspicious deaths of persons in custody; forced disappearances; torture; arbitrary arrest and continued detention of tens of thousands of persons, including opposition politicians and former members of parliament, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, and an employee of the U.S. Mission, for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech; political prisoners, including elected officials; transnational reprisal against individuals located outside the country, including kidnappings and transfers of alleged members of the Gulen movement without adequate fair trial guarantees or other legal protections; significant problems with judicial independence; support for Syrian opposition groups that perpetrated serious abuses in conflict, including the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers; severe restrictions on freedom of expression and press freedom, including violence and threats of violence against journalists, closure of media outlets, and arrests or criminal prosecution of journalists and others for criticizing government policies or officials, censorship, site blocking, and criminal libel laws; serious restrictions on internet freedom; severe restriction of freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, including overly restrictive laws regarding government oversight of nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations; restrictions on movement; refoulement of refugees; serious government harassment of domestic human rights organizations; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence; crimes involving violence targeting members of national/racial/ethnic minority groups; and crimes involving violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons.
The government took limited steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials and members of the security forces accused of human rights abuses or engaged in corruption and impunity remained a problem. The government took limited steps to investigate allegations of high-level corruption.
Clashes between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist organization and its affiliates continued and resulted in the injury or death of security forces, terrorists, and civilians. The government did not release information on efforts to investigate or prosecute personnel for wrongful or inadvertent deaths of civilians linked to counterterrorism operations.
For Further Reference
Full U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Report
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Country Report
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report Chapter on Turkey
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Human Rights Watch World Report Country Chapter
Amnesty International Annual Report Country Chapter
Freedom House Freedom in the World Country Report