HRFT-İHD: Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı Is Not Alone!

Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı Is Not Alone!

12 February 2024


False statements in a “documentary” that was apparently broadcast on a YouTube channel on 11 February 2024 attempted to discredit our dear friend Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association (TMA) and member of the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), her extraordinarily valuable scientific work and struggle against violations of the prohibition of torture, and more importantly, tried to legitimize torture and other ill-treatment by targeting Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı.

We are deeply concerned that human dignity and respect for human rights are being trampled on with such recklessness and irresponsibility.

The universal principles and standards for the effective investigation and documentation of allegations of torture are clearly stated in the İstanbul Protocol: Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The medical evaluation reports mentioned in the “documentary” in question were prepared in the light of the İstanbul Protocol by evaluating the opinions of the relevant specialties together with Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı’s and the results of the necessary examinations.

In the same “documentary,” it is stated that the medical evaluation reports were prepared “five years later after the fact” and an attempt is made to cast doubt on these reports by asking “Can such a thing happen?” However, scientific studies and developments in the field of forensic sciences show that physical and psychological findings and evidence of torture and other ill-treatment can be revealed even after many years. In addition, since its establishment in 1990, 21,898 people have applied to the HRFT on the grounds of torture and ill-treatment. Many medical evaluation reports prepared for those who requested them within the scope of the principles of the İstanbul Protocol also show that evidence of torture and ill-treatment can be established even after a long period of time has passed.

Further, as also stated in the İstanbul Protocol, persons alleged to have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment have the right to apply to one or more healthcare professionals of their choice at any time when they feel the need or conditions are appropriate, within the scope of the right to remedy, including rehabilitation and/or medical evaluation reports.

Considering this information, efforts to devalue duly prepared medical evaluation reports with false claims without regarding any scientific rule and principle are nothing but a direct legitimization of torture. Such efforts, on the one hand, deepen the problem of impunity that leads to the continuation of torture and, moreover, harm the reparation and redress processes of torture survivors.

The “documentary” in question also includes utterly false statements about the “Atlas of Torture”, which was prepared by the HRFT in 2005 and published in 2007, and which is one of the first examples of its kind in the world in this field, and, more importantly, with every sentence of the documentary, they constitute a flagrant legitimization of torture. The “Atlas of Torture” is a publication of the HRFT as an institution, not an individual. It was prepared by nine scientists and experts, including Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, to contribute to the professional practices of health professionals by evaluating more than 6,000 photographs and X-rays of more than 10,000 torture survivors who had applied to the HRFT’s treatment and rehabilitation centers.

Moreover, the information about the incident in the “documentary” in question, which was witnessed by everyone in the country, is available in the judiciary, many public institutions and open sources. Therefore, there is no obstacle to a fair trial process for the incident in question. People who are accused of any crime should be tried in the light of universal legal norms, and should be punished to the extent that their guilt is proven as a result of a fair trial process.

We would like to remind all once again that torture is absolutely prohibited and cannot be exempted under any circumstances. The absolute prohibition of torture, which is included in the conventions that Turkey is a signatory to, is one of the most concrete expressions of the aim of protecting the dignity and value of human beings, which has been filtered through human history. Torture is an act of violence that dehumanizes not only the tortured person but also the torturers. Therefore, torturing a person, no matter who they are or what they are accused of, is a crime against humanity in the person of that person.

As such, all defamations, including those made through the media, to damage the reputation and credibility of Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı as a scientist and human rights defender and legitimizing torture, are completely unacceptable.

Everyone should know that our dear friend Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who has dedicated her life to the fight against human rights violations, especially torture, will never be alone.


Human Rights Foundation of Turkey – Human Rights Association