Okeil: Turkey’s failure to join the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance will not exempt it from responsibility, and we hold the Turkish authorities responsible for anything happens to Al-Astal.
Today, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights submitted an urgent appeal to the United Nations special procedures on the disappearance of the Palestinian journalist Ahmed Mahmoud Ayesh Al-Astal, who has been living in Turkey for 7 years. On September 21, 2020, Al-Astal was reportedly abducted from a street in Istanbul, while he was searching for a new home, according to the narrative of his brother, Husam Al-Astal, who confirmed that his brother’s house was stormed by unknown figures while he and his family were out two weeks before the incident, and his personal computer and some papers and files related to his work were stolen.
Maat indicated that Ahmed Al-Astal is a Palestinian journalist who had been working in the UAE for ten years before moving to Turkey, where he worked as a press editor and opinion write in the Anadolu Agency and a number of other Turkish press institutions. The Al-Astal family held the Turkish authorities responsible for protecting their son, demanding them to disclose his whereabouts and the reason for his disappearance. Such repeated cases of disappearances in Turkey prove the reluctance and failure of the authorities to investigate these incidents and take a step forward.
Ayman Okeil, head of Maat, affirmed that Turkey’s failure to join the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance will not exempt it from responsibility and accountability for all these crimes, especially in light of the alarming increase of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in Turkey, which is systematically practiced against whoever raises his voice against the government’s policies.
Okeil added that Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Turkey, states that “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.”
Additionally, the first and second paragraphs of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration on the Human Rights of Individuals who are not nationals of the country in which they live, stipulates that “aliens shall enjoy, in accordance with domestic law and subject to the relevant international obligations of the State in which they are present, of the right to life and security of person; no alien shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention; no alien shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law, as well as the right to protection against arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, or correspondence.
Okeil called on the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances to visit Turkey in order to review the record of the forcibly disappeared and arbitrarily detained, to make the results of the investigations public, and to promptly act in order to disclose the fate of the forcibly disappeared and detained and to compensate them. He also holds the Turkish authorities fully responsible if anything bad happened to him.
For his part, Sherif Abdel Hamid, Director of the Research and Studies Unit at Maat, said that during the review of Turkey’s human rights record by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time in January 2020, the Turkish government ignored the response to dozens of international and human rights reports confirming the outbreak of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance.
Over 940 cases of enforced disappearance in Turkey were documented, and this overwhelming, vicious cycle of continuous harassment practiced by the Turkish authorities against opposition and human rights activists did not save anyone in the country, including foreign citizens residing on Turkish territory, Abdul Hamid added.
In this regard, Maat called on the Turkish authorities to immediately disclose his whereabouts and fate, and to guarantee his full rights. It also appealed to the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, as well as the Working Group on Cases of Arbitrary Detention, to request a visit to Turkey in order to review the record of the forcibly disappeared and arbitrarily detained, to make the results of the investigations public, and to promptly act in order to disclose the fate of the forcibly disappeared and detained and to compensate them, based on the declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in this regard in its resolution 47/133 of December 18, 1992, in its capacity as a set of principles applicable to all states.