Turkey slams UN commissioner over human rights report

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey accused a senior U.N. official of lacking impartiality and collaborating with terrorists over a new report released earlier Tuesday that called on the country to end a state of emergency imposed after a 2016 failed coup attempt.

The U.N. report says that the state of emergency had led to “profound” human rights violations, paving the way to arbitrary detentions and dismissals, infringements on the rights of freedom of association and expression, and torture and ill-treatment.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said the state of emergency, which has been extended six times since it was imposed, has “been used to severely and arbitrarily curtail the human rights of a very large number of people.”

Turkey responded harshly, accusing the commissioner of relegating “the U.N. body under his administration into a position of collaborator of terrorist organizations.”

“The High Commissioner, who signed this text, has lost his objectivity and impartiality on the issues concerning Turkey, and has developed prejudices against our country,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.

It also accused Al Hussein of making a “baseless” claim about not being given “access” to Turkey, saying he hadn’t accepted “multiple invitations” to visit the country.

Turkey has blamed the coup on a network of followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and launched a major crackdown on his supporters and others accused of links to terror groups. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested and more than 110,000 dismissed from public sector jobs. Gulen has denied any involvement.

Turkey says the emergency powers are needed to deal with ongoing security threats.

The U.N. report recommended that Turkey “promptly end the state of emergency, restore the normal functioning of its institutions and repeal all legislation that is not compliant with Turkey’s international human rights obligations.”

The U.N. Human Rights Office said it recognizes Turkey’s challenges stemming from the coup attempt as well as extremist attacks. The report said, however, that the emergency powers appeared to be used to “stifle any form of criticism or dissent vis-a-vis the government.”

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Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

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