Turkey should prosecute officials who allegedly tortured prisoners and killed civilians amid counterterrorism operations in Kurdish areas, the UN anti-torture committee said Friday in Geneva.
"The committee is seriously concerned about numerous credible reports of law enforcement officials engaging in torture and ill-treatment of detainees," the UN expert panel said after having reviewed Turkey's compliance with the UN pact that bans torture.
The committee reminded the government in Ankara that under the binding pact, there are "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" that justify torture, not even a security operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The UN body also called on Turkey to quickly investigate killings, including a widely reported incident in which police snipers shot dead two unarmed women in the Kurdish city of Cizre in September.
Recent months have seen a sharp increase in violence in the mostly Kurdish south-eastern provinces of Turkey.
The Turkish foreign affairs ministry on Thursday invited UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to visit the region, after he demanded a UN investigation into reported killings of civilians.
"He is interested in sending a serious fact finding mission and not in a public relations exercise," Zeid's spokesman responded Friday at a press briefing in Geneva, adding that High Commissioner Zeid was "not particularly considering going himself."
Turkey's anti-terror laws are at the centre of a spat between Ankara and Brussels, as the European Union is demanding the country narrows these laws before granting Turks visa-free access to the bloc.
UN anti-torture committee member Alessio Bruni made clear that torture was not widespread in Turkey in the view of the committee.
"But it is still practised, but there is a certain impunity. That’s the problem," he told reporters.
People who file complaints about police are often faced with counter-charges such as resisting or insulting police officers, the committee noted.