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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) urges the government of Turkey to amend the draft law on  the future Human Rights and Equality Body

8 March 2016

The government of Turkey has drafted legislation that includes a comprehensive anti-discrimination law and establishes a Human Rights and Equality Body. MRG has been urging the Turkish government since 2009 to take such measures, while ensuring that any initiatives are in line with EU and international standards. MRG welcomes the current process; however the draft law that is currently being evaluated by the thematic commissions of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey needs to be amended in order to meet EU and international norms.

  • Discrimination by association, victimisation, inciting another to discriminate and aiding another to discriminate should be added to the definitions listed in Article 2 of the draft law.
  • Article 3 of the draft law should be amended to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, sect and national origin (in addition to the grounds listed already); the grounds of discrimination should be left open ended.
  • Article 21 of the draft law places the burden of proof on respondents before the Equality Body; it should be amended to ensure that the same is true for applications to other administrative bodies and national courts.
  • The law should be amended to ensure that civil society organisations are entitled to submit applications directly to the Equality Body and make third party interventions before the Equality Body and national courts.
  • The Equality Body must be set up according to the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions (known as The Paris Principles), European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) General Policy Recommendation No. 2 on Specialised bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at national level and ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 7 on National legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination:
  • The independence of the Equality Body must be guaranteed.
  • Members of the Board of the Equality Body must be appointed in a manner to ensure pluralist representation of different parts of society.
  • Special measures should be taken to ensure employment of members of ethnic, religious and linguistic groups by the Equality Body.
  • The Equality Body should be accessible to all sections of society in every possible way. Applications in languages other than Turkish should be facilitated.

The draft law was not prepared in a participatory manner. Civil society organizations (CSOs) specialising in anti-discrimination work were not consulted before or during the preparation of the draft law. MRG recommends that the Turkish government starts a consultation process with specialised CSOs; revise the draft law according to the recommendations issued by CSOs, including MRG, to bring the law into line with EU and international standards; and refer the draft law to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey upon completion.

Nurcan Kaya, MRG’s Turkey Coordinator

Email: [email protected]

Photo: A Roma family in Turkey