ISTANBUL – The Turkish Ministry of Justice is opening an investigation into the death of an arrested man who allegedly died after severe torture. Turkish human rights organisations don’t have much confidence in the investigation. They claim the government’s zero tolerance to torture has failed and that it might even have caused a rise in the incidence of torture.
The victim, 29-year old Engin Ceber, was arrested with three friends when he took part in a demonstration in Istanbul over previous police violence against vendors of a leftist magazine. The tortures allegedly started in the police station and continued later in prison. Last week Ceber was brought to hospital with a brain haemorrhage, of which he died last weekend. According to his lawyer he complained several times about being tortured, for example by being beaten with a wooden stick. Ceber has now been buried, the other arrested men are still in detention.
The Erdogan administration started a policy of zero tolerance to torture in 2002. In so doing it met one of the EU’s demands for starting negotiations with Turkey on EU membership. According to Turkish human rights organisations it turned out to be a paper policy only, those responsible for torture are hardly ever punished, and investigations and court cases against them are unnecessarily long. As well, the need to keep a close watch on the subject had supposedly decreased since the laws against torture are officially in place. The Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association states that the number of submissions to the Association concerning torture is increasing.