U.N. torture investigator to visit Turkey, jails next week
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GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N. torture investigator is going to Turkey from Nov. 27 to Dec 2 at government invitation and plans to visit police stations, prisons and pre-trial facilities where detainees are held to discuss "challenges" related to torture, a U.N. statement said.
Turkey has sacked or suspended more than 125,000 officials in the military, civil service, judiciary and elsewhere since a failed coup attempt in July. About 36,000 have been jailed pending trial, in a crackdown condemned by Western allies, activist groups and the U.N. human rights office.
"I look forward to engaging with the Turkish Government on how to meet the challenges of upholding the rule of law, promoting accountability, and fulfilling the right of reparations for victims, in particular in the aftermath of the attempted coup in July of this year," the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said in a statement.
Melzer, a former Red Cross and Swiss official, currently works at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He took up the independent U.N. role this month, succeeding Juan Mendez, whose fact-finding mission to Turkey scheduled for October was canceled by the government.
Mendez, in a statement at the time, voiced deep disappointment, citing the need to investigate "allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many detention centers throughout the country".
"Independent monitoring of the situation in places where individuals are deprived of their liberty is a crucial safeguard against ill-treatment and torture," he said.
The last U.N. torture investigator visited Turkey in 1998, a U.N. official said. However, other U.N. human rights experts have visited since then including this year on disappearances.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Larry King)
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