İHD Special Report on Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in Turkey

Hate crimes are quite prevalent in Turkey. And, unfortunately, problematic areas in legislation on hate crimes are quite expansive in the country. There are, first of all, serious legal loopholes as there are no extensive legal regulations on hate crimes. The current legislation on hate speech, moreover, is not implemented to prevent hate speech. Another important problem pertains to the fact that hate speech and hate crimes have not been prescribed under a single title. 

İHD believes that official ideology should be abandoned and the criminal legislation closely tied to this official ideology should be revised in order to eradicate hate crimes that is one of the major problems before social peace. Accordingly, necessary legislation should be introduced to recognize ethnic identity, sexual orientation and the right to gender identity, and all kinds of faiths and sects as bases for discrimination and thus to put an end to hate crimes against these groups.

İHD recommends that the following should be provided without delay:

  • The definition of hate crimes should comply with that of OSCE’s: “Any criminal offense, including offenses against persons or property, where the victim, premises, or target of the offense are selected because of their real or perceived connection, attachment, affiliation, support, or membership of a group. A group may be based upon a characteristic common to its members, such as real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or other similar factor.” Ethic affiliation, gender identity and sexual orientation based hate crimes should be included in the definition.

  • Turkey had signed Protocol No. 12 to the ECHR that prescribes prohibition of discrimination on 18 April 2001 but the protocol has not gone into force yet because it has not been ratified by the parliament. The ratification of this protocol is of vital significance for combatting racism and racial discrimination.
  • The TPC should be made compliant with the General Policy Recommendation No. 7 of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination.
  • Article 10 of the Turkish Constitution that prescribes “equality before law” should be amended to include ethnic affiliation, sexual orientation and gender identity, all kinds of faiths or lack thereof, and age.
  • Provisions on hate crimes in the TPC should be reviewed.
  • The policy of impunity for hate speech should be put to an end and negative conduct toward victims of hate crimes should be avoided. The policy of impunity should be combatted and such negative culture seen within the judiciary should be ended.
  • Certain tools should be used to eradicate hate speech. These should be assessed within a wide range of options from awareness raising to self-control, to legal practices.
  • Authorities of all levels and political leaders should abstain from hate speech. İHD believes that unless discriminatory, marginalizing, othering and polarizing discourse is ended hate crimes in Turkey will prevail because such discourse affects nationalist and racist groups quite negatively and these effects can easily turn into violence.
  • Law enforcement officers and public prosecutors’ offices should cooperate and safely communicate with the victims in the reporting, investigating and sentencing of racist, homophobic and transphobic offenses. They should receive regular training to this end.

Click to read the full report in English: sr20200922_Hate Crimes and Racist Attacks Report_Sept 2020