Cablegate: Tip: Turkish Media Attention, May 2004
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 ANKARA 003048
DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, EUR/PGI, EUR/SE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD PREF TU TIP IN TURKEY
SUBJECT: TIP: TURKISH MEDIA ATTENTION, MAY 2004
1. (U) In response to G/TIP inquiries about GOT anti-TIP
public information, post provides as examples the following
TIP press reports published in national and international
news media. Text of the articles (originally published in
Turkish unless otherwise noted) is provided through
unofficial local FSN translation.
2. (U) Published Wednesday, June 2, 2004 by the English
language Christian Science Monitor:
TITLE: 'Radical' shift in Turkey's judiciary
In a bid to join the EU, Turkish judges and
prosecutors are being trained in the fundamentals of
human rights law. By Yigal Schleifer, Christian
BEGIN TEXT: ISTANBUL, TURKEY - When a pro-Kurdish
politician accused of supporting a terrorist
organization was acquitted recently, the verdict made
front-page news here. "Radical," was how the daily
Milliyet described the case.
The nation's State Security Courts (DGMs), tribunals
that handle terrorism and political cases, cited
European human rights law as the basis of the decision.
In doing so, they marked a fundamental shift in the way
Turkey's legal system is beginning to operate.
"The DGMs Say Hello to Europe," the newspaper's
headline read. But the two courts are not the only
parts of the judiciary saying "hello" to Europe. Over
the past few months, some 9,200 judges and prosecutors
have been trained- in the largest program of its kind
in Turkey - in the basic foundations of human rights
law. It is a massive effort to help the country adopt a
model more in line with European standards.
The program, a project of the Turkish Ministry of
Justice and the European Union, is one of numerous
reforms undertaken by Turkey as it continues its bid to
join the EU. One of the largest obstacles on the road
to Brussels, thus far, has been the spotty human rights
record of its criminal justice system.
"This [training program] is part of being contemporary.
At a certain point you have to respect human rights,"
says Demet Gural, executive director of the Human
Resources Development Foundation. "I wouldn't have
imagined 10 years ago that the Ministry of Justice, for
example, would be conducting human rights training for
Reforms have ranged from ending the death penalty to
loosening the military's control over civil affairs.
Hoping to receive a positive answer from the EU this
year about when accession negotiations may begin,
Turkey has been passing reform packages at a rapid
So rapid, in fact, that the terrorism trial against 69
people accused of helping organize the deadly Istanbul
bombings last November was stopped as soon as it began
in a state security court Monday. The defense argued
that the case was not valid, since such DGMs are soon
to be replaced with new tribunals more in line with
Organizers of the human rights training program say
they are trying to bridge an educational gap that some
Turkish jurists may have. "In Turkish law schools, in
their old program, there were no courses in human
rights," says Ebru Dabbagh, the training program's
coordinator. "They learned about human rights as a
small part of the penal code or through international
law, but they did not learn about it in detail."
Haluk Mahmutogullari, a judge who heads the Ministry of
Justice's training division, says that although Turkish
judges and prosecutors are not unaware of international
human rights standards, the practical application of
those standards has sometimes failed.
"For the last years Turkey has been punished by the
European Court of Human Rights quite often," he says,
"which meant that we definitely should do something
about it and find what we were doing wrong."
Looking at such basic principles as property rights,
freedom of association, and prohibitions against
torture, the program brought European legal experts to
Turkey to train a core group of 225 judges and
prosecutors who are now in charge of instructing their
The program is one of several initiated over the past
year that have attempted to familiarize Turkish judges,
prosecutors, and policemen with international human
Many experts say these programs reflect a change in how
the Turkish state is starting to view international
laws and standards.
"Turkish judicial circles had always kept a sort of
nationalistic approach to international human rights
law, but there is a change," says Turgut Tarhanli,
director of the Human Rights Law Research Center at
Istanbul Bilgi University, which has taken some 60
judges and prosecutors to legal seminars in Sweden and
the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,
"They are now starting to look at cases through a human
rights lens," he says. "There are still problems, but a
real change has started."
Turkey's human rights record, eroded for years by
charges of torture, police brutality, and questionable
legal proceedings has been shaped by the country's
turbulent recent history.
State versus individual
A 1980 military coup led to a new constitution that
enshrined state order over individual rights. During
the bloody fight in the 80s and 90s against the
militants of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK), Turkey's courts were often used as a weapon in
"In criminal law cases or civil law cases, mainly
during the era of struggling against the PKK, the
national interests of the state were a priority over
the rights of the individual," says Mr. Tarhanli.
But Turkey's hopes of joining the EU, as well as
pressure from the US and the country's own civil
society organizations, have changed the legal
"At the state level there was no way [Turkey] could go
on with the old regulations," says Mrs. Gural, whose
organization began training jurists and policemen on
international human-trafficking laws this year.
Human rights activists point out that structural
problems still remain, with cases of torture and
freedom of expression violations still reported in the
country. An EU report last year found that parts of the
judiciary still do not always act "in an impartial and
Tarhanli says "black holes" still exist in Turkish
daily judicial work. Training programs in human rights
law are a start, but he says a critical test is for the
country's judges and prosecutors to take what they have
learned and apply it in the cases that come before
"The most important thing is to what extent can judges
and prosecutors use these international instruments of
law in their daily work?" he says. "To what extent can
they use the knowledge they got in this training?" END
3. (U) Published May 18, 2004 in English and Turkish by
Anadolu News Agency and circulated in multiple national
TITLE: TURKEY SIGNS COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH EUROPOL
BEGIN TEXT: ANKARA - Turkish Directorate General of
Security and the European Law Enforcement Organization
(Europol) signed on Tuesday cooperation agreement.
In the signing ceremony held in Turkey's capital
Ankara, Gokhan Aydiner, the Director General of
Security said that security forces should closely
follow technological developments, renew and make
national and international cooperation in order to
fight against crimes and criminals.
Aydiner noted that crime gangs were using advanced
technology to achieve their intentions and crimes had
gone beyond national limits and had international
Stating that only one country's fight against
terrorism and organized crime was not sufficient
today, Aydiner said that international cooperation was
Aydiner said, "Europol is a law enforcement
organization which handles criminal intelligence
activities of the European Union (EU). Its aim is to
improve the effectiveness and co-operation of the
competent authorities in the Member States in
preventing and combating serious forms of
international organized crime."
"Its mission is to assist the law enforcement
authorities of Member States in their fight against
serious forms of organized crime," Aydiner added.
Europol Director Juergen Storbeck stressed that
cooperation in countering terrorism was very important
for EU and world countries.
Storbeck said that terrorism was a global threat.
Cooperation was necessary to prevent terrorism and
capture criminals, Storbeck noted.
Storbeck said that countries should also cooperate
against illicit drug trafficking, human and arms
trafficking, and forgery of valuable documents and
They had established a database for especially
effective fight against drug trafficking, Storbeck
Touching on new Europol projects, Storbeck hoped that
Turkish Directorate General of Security would be
included in new Europol projects covering illegal
immigration and human trafficking in the East
Storbeck said that Turkish police was exerting
professional efforts in fighting against organized
Stating that Turkish police efforts constituted an
example for bilateral cooperation agreements, Storbeck
said that Turkey was a cornerstone in the fight
against organized crime and criminals.
Storbeck noted that they would have the opportunity to
join experiences of Turkish police with Europol's
facilities under the cooperation agreement.
Noting that Turkey was not an EU member country yet,
Storbeck said that however, Europol considered Turkey
equal to EU member countries in its projects. END
4. (U) Published in Turkish in the May 10, 2004 edition of
Yeni Safak, a Turkish newspaper with nation-wide circulation
BEGIN TEXT: Acting on a tip, Turkish National Police
security teams from Istanbul's Foreigners Desk
conducted an operation in Istanbul's Beykoz district,
detaining a jewelry courier named R.P., who allegedly
sold three Moldovan women A.T., V.P., and L.P. In the
house, the police found 6 passports belonging to
foreign women. It was said that the courier R.P.
married V.P., a Moldovan citizen, but recently divorced
her, though they continued living together. The two
brought women from Moldova promising employment for
them, then kept their passports and sold them to men
including some businessmen and bureaucrats for 1,500 or
2000 USD. The detainees were sent to the Public
Prosecutor. END TEXT.
5. (U) Published in English by Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty April 22, 2004:
TITLE: Central Asia is becoming a major region of
origin for human trafficking.
BEGIN TEXT: Thousands of young women are either
abducted or lured away from the country every year and
sold into the sex trade. The problem is of particular
concern in Tajikistan, which is still struggling to
recover from a five-year civil war that has left many
people desperate to find economic prospects abroad.
Prague, 22 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Madina remembers
vividly her ordeal at the hands of a human trafficker.
This Tajik single mother was desperate to secure a
better life for herself and her two children.
Responding to an offer from a man she didn't know, she
left Tajikistan with the hope of a respectable job and
a good salary.
"I was working in a local market [in Tajikistan]. One
day a man talked to me and asked about my life. I told
him that it was too hard, that I had a lot of problems,
that I had two children and not enough money to feed
them," she says. "I [am] divorced from my husband. Then
he said: 'If you want you can come with me abroad.
There are a lot of jobs [there] and I can help you to
find one.' I believed what he said and I followed him."
Madina says the man promised her she would be able to
return home after just two months, and with a huge
amount of money. But it soon became clear this was not
the case. "We went to Turkey, but he tricked me. He
took my documents and sent me to a brothel," she says.
"I spent one year in brothels. It was a terrible time
for me. I was sick. And when I returned to Tajikistan I
had only $200. It was difficult to escape but finally I
managed to do so."
Madina is not alone. According to the International
Office for Migration, some 646 Tajik women were
forcibly trafficked by criminal groups from the country
in 2002. Their destination is mainly the Persian Gulf,
but some go to South Korea, Turkey, Southeast Asia, and
Many leave believing they will find better economic
prospects abroad. With an average monthly wage in
Tajikistan of just $5, many women are desperate to find
a way out of poverty.
The actual figure of trafficking victims is difficult
to determine. Many victims do not know to whom to turn
in crisis situations and are afraid or ashamed of
publicizing their cases.
Until recently, Tajik authorities largely ignored the
issue. But they now admit the existence of the problem
and are trying to prevent it. In the country's new
Criminal Code, adopted about 1 1/2 years ago, two
articles were added addressing human trafficking for
the first time.
The Tajik parliament is now working on legislation to
further strengthen the prohibition against human
trafficking. Parliamentarian Sherkhon Salimov describes
some of the changes: "We made a few changes to Articles
339 and 340 of the Criminal Code. According to these
articles, people involved in preparing forged documents
and in using those documents will be punished. We also
made changes on several Criminal, Administrative, and
Civil codes. Human trafficking is described as a crime
punishable with prison terms."
Until all these amendments are adopted, human
traffickers will remain punishable only under the
Criminal Code, which imposes jail terms of some 5-8
years for convicted traffickers.
But Tajik Deputy Prosecutor Azizmad Imomov says the
laws should be completely reviewed, rather than
amended, in order to ensure the country can fight human
trafficking efficiently. "Some new articles from the
Criminal Code -- which basically dates from the Soviet
times -- are not enough to prevent human trafficking,
because in the laws, the role of the prosecutors, the
court and the police is quite unclear," he said.
Meanwhile, the Tajik government is supporting
preventive campaigns designed to inform the public --
especially young women -- about the dangers of human
trafficking. In particular, the campaigns urge people
to be wary of offers of work abroad.
Nigida Mamadjonova works for the International Office
for Migration (IOM) in the Tajik capital Dushanbe. She
says because it is difficult to help women who have
already fallen victim to traffickers, preventing
further such incidents is crucial. "According to
unofficial data, more than 300 Tajik woman and girls
have been arrested and imprisoned in the United Arab
Emirates for prostitution. We are not involved in
releasing them. Preventing them from being involved in
this traffic is more important. It's our priority."
The IOM has been carrying out countertrafficking
information campaigns, spreading the word through
television documentaries, talk shows, radio
announcements, and the distribution of leaflets. The
organization also set up an information center in
Dushanbe earlier this year to help migrant laborers be
aware of the risks.
(Sojida Djakhfarova of RFE/RL's Tajik Service
contributed to this report.) END TEXT.