Touching on a wide array of issues concerning Turkey, the report gave a special place to the sweeping corruption scandal that first broke on Dec. 17 and has implicated Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close associates.
The report said Turkish “authorities have not established a pattern of investigating, indicting and convicting individuals accused of corruption, and there were concerns about the impartiality of the judiciary in the handling of anticorruption cases.”
This came against backdrop of series of attempts by government, which opponents says is derailing the graft investigation through enacting new law granting stronger control to the government over judiciary. The government’s mass purges in judiciary and police forces also have become sources of concern both in Turkey and in the EU which is weary of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) clumsy handling of the corruption case.
“While the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and some officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The European Commission noted in its October progress report that there was no progress in limiting the immunity of members of parliament and senior public officials in corruption-related cases or in establishing objective criteria for lifting their immunity,” the report said regarding legal immunity for the lawmakers.
The US rights report says Turkish government’s interference with freedom of expression and assembly is extremely problematic, citing the excessive use of police force against protesters during month-long Gezi Park protests last year. “Of particular note, authorities used excessive force in response to the summer’s Gezi Park protests, leading to mass casualties (including seven deaths) and an overall diminution of freedom of expression and press.”
“The penal code and anti-terror law retain multiple articles that restrict freedom of expression, the press, and the internet,” said the report pointing to simmering problems concerning the press freedom. With the draconian anti-terror law, dozens of journalist landed behind bars with indefinite period of detention. The report also addressed the existence of wide-ranging self-censorship among media outlets which are fearful of government backlash and avoid critical reporting.