UN rights chief Zeid sees trouble in Turkey, EU and US | News | DW | 01.05.2017
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UN rights chief Zeid sees trouble in Turkey, EU and US

Several countries appear to be finding excuses to violate human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says. The UN's high commissioner for human rights singled out Turkey and Egypt, but also spanked the European Union and US.

The UN's rights commissioner says mass arrests and a public sector purge have created a "climate of fear" in Turkey.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said the government had exacerbated this by suspending or sacking more than 120,000 civil servants since an alleged coup last July. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a referendum last month to expand his powers and then immediately suspended civil protections.

"I'm very concerned about the renewed state of emergency, which was undertaken in mid-April," Zeid, a Jordanian prince, told a news conference on Monday.

Turkey's government has arrested 40,000 people since the failed putsch, which left 240 people dead. The government has also detained at least 150 people working for media outlets.

"Journalism is not a crime in Turkey," Zeid said. "It's an issue which we believe the government must pay deeper attention to."

Turkey's government dispatched police to put down May Day protests on Monday.

'Not the way to fight terror'

Zeid also highlighted mass arrests in Egypt and an emboldened far right in Europe.

He said Egypt had risked radicalizing people by arresting them en masse in the years since Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi came to power by toppling Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi,  in a coup. "This is, in our opinion, not the way to fight terror," Zeid told the news conference on Monday.

The UN's rights chief pointed to an extended spell of rule by emergency decree, violence by security forces, controls on freedom of expression and the collapse of civil society. He said Sissi had based these moves on the false premise that shows of strength can solve problems.

'Highly lamentable' treatment of minorities

Zeid said EU nations had violated rights in expelling or blocking migrants and repressing minorities domestically. EU governments have tried to reach deals with Middle Eastern and North African countries that would make it easier to deport nationals back to those countries and keep other migrants from ever leaving them.

"Whenever candidates use inflammatory language that clearly begins to touch upon incitement, we feel an obligation to speak up," Zeid said Monday. "We are concerned by the way minorities and others, migrants of irregular status, are targeted for the ills of society, for the ills of particular systems of government that are not working," he added. "This we find highly lamentable."

Zeid, who had warned last year that Donald Trump could prove "dangerous" if elected, also gave reporters in Geneva an updated take on the novice US president. He said he'd noticed a "change in some of the rhetoric" since Trump assumed office in January, and expressed hope that the disgraced former reality star would renege on some of his more worrisome campaign promises, such as reinstating torture as official US military policy.

mkg/tj (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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